The Secrets to an Interesting Photo – Unlocked!

A few days ago Reuters published a collection of the Best Photos of the Year 2012. This collection, similar to the Atlantic’s 2012: The Year in Photos, is a sometimes inspiring, often depressing look back at the events of the past year. The content and subjects of the images aside, they are both excellent presentations of some of the best in photojournalism and image making for the year, and I encourage you to not only look through the images, but to analyze the ones that you like or that move you, and determine what it is about the images that makes them so powerful. Look at the position and point of view of the camera, the aperture settings used (shallow depth of field vs. deep dof), the composition including wide vs. tight and what was put in the frame and what may have been left out, how the elements, forms, and colors in the image relate, the moment captured, etc.

Reuters photographer Joseba Etxaburu is knocked down by a wild cow during festivities in the bullring following the sixth running of the bulls of the San Fermin festival in Pamplona July 12, 2012. Etxaburu suffered some scratches on his right elbow but was able to continue shooting afterwards. Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, lens 70-200mm, f3.5, 1/640, ISO 500.

In an interesting exercise, someone has compiled the type of cameras and lenses used for the photos, and the exposure settings, and then put it all into easy to read pie charts. To turn this information on its head, it seems that to have the best chance of make an interesting image, what you need is a Canon 1D Mark IV with a 16-35mm lens (likely the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L), set your aperture at f/2.8, shutter speed at 1/320, and use 200 ISO.

But to look seriously and more in-depth at the information compiled and presented in the charts, one can learn a lot about how photojournalists in the field operate:

They seem to prefer Canon dSLR cameras, with Canons used in about 90% of the images* – or it perhaps merely shows that Reuters provides, supports, and/ or encourages Canon equipment. (For example, they likely have a collection of Canon bodies and lenses at their offices for the photojournalists to use or to supplement their equipment when they need a specialized lens.) The top camera used, the Canon 1D Mark IV is a very rugged and reliable professional camera, which is interesting to note has “only” 16 megapixels (though it has a much higher quality image sensor than consumer cameras). It has recently been replaced with the more current Canon 1D X.

Prime lenses were used (rather than zooms) in about 55%* of the images, and the most common favorites were nearly equally divided over the 24mm, 50mm, and 16mm (each used about 8% of the time overall when including all lenses*).

With zoom lenses, the wide angle 16-35mm (EF 16-35mm f/2.8L) was used most often (about 19% of the time overall with all lenses*), followed by the 70-200mm (likely the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS version I or II). (The lens links here are for Canon lenses – I’ll try to get back to this and add similar Nikon lens links.)

(*these numbers may be off, as the numbers on Reddit seem to be inconsistent/ incomplete)

What this tells us is that wide angle lenses really are the “bread and butter” lens of the photojournalist, used to capture a wide scene or to place the subject or the action into a larger context – which is often important in telling a full and accurate story in a single image. It also means that the photographer was typically very close to the subject, right in the middle of the action. Sometimes however, a close-up portrait or detail best tells the story, or a photographer can’t get as close as desired, and that is where the 70-200mm comes in.  It is interesting to note that when I did extensive research into choosing lenses at the start of my professional career, I followed many working photographers’ advice and settled first upon these exact lenses – the 16-35mm and 70-200mm. You can do a lot of great travel and photojournalism work with those two lenses alone. One problem you will run into if you are only using one body, however, is that you sometimes have to quickly switch to the other, and that is where the more versatile 24-105mm f/4L or 24-70mm f/2.8L lenses can be more practical.  And you can see that these mid-range zooms were two of the other, lesser used zooms in the chart.

After some time with the zooms, most people want to try their hand at a prime lens – to increase image quality, help them work a bit more at composing and framing, and to provide even shallower depth of field. And as you can see, the wide primes are the most popular among photojournalists. The 50mm f/1.2L or the more affordable 50mm f/1.4 will give you a field of view approximating your normal vision (hence they are called “normal” lenses. The 24mm f/1.4L and 16mm focal lengths are much wider. These also show that the photographers were right up in the action.

The photojournalist’s expression used to be “f/8 and be there” but based on this data, it will obviously have to be modified to “f/2.8 and be there.” The most common aperture setting in these images was f/2.8, used in about 29% of the photos, followed by f/4, f/1.4 (which is possible with some of the prime lenses), and f/3.2. What this means is that they are most often using a very shallow depth of field, usually in an attempt to visually separate the subject of the image from the background, and to call attention to exactly where in the image they want the viewer’s eye to fall. Plus the wide aperture lets in lots of light, which may help them be able to use the fast shutter speeds and low ISO settings they desire.

The “f/8 and be there” expression has been interpreted in a few different ways, but what it seems to say is have your camera ready, and then just be at the scene. The camera settings aren’t nearly as important in photojournalism as simply being there to capture the action.  It also shows that with f/2.8 (and other wide apertures) being used as the most common aperture setting today, photography has likely made a shift over the past few decades where shallower depth of field is much more common.  This would be interesting to investigate, but it could be the result of autofocus systems, allowing a photojournalist to be much more sure of their focus and able to use shallow dof – where as before they had to quickly manually focus and a slightly deeper dof allowed some focusing lee-way. It could also have to do with lenses now being sharper at wider apertures.

The most often used shutter speeds were 1/320, 1/250, 1/800, and 1/640. A photojournalist is often capturing action or precise moments, and thus a fast shutter speed is desired. The best thing to do in these types of situations – especially if working in Aperture Priority Mode so that you have full control over your depth of field – is to set an ISO speed (based on the lighting of the scene) that will allow the camera to select appropriately fast shutter speeds. The best shutter speed depends on the situation and how fast/ what direction the subject might be moving, but from these results it shows that anywhere from 1/250 to 1/800 can work for many scenes – although 1/1000, 1/2000, or faster will be needed for sports and fast action. So set an ISO speed that will result in this shutter speed range when your aperture is set around f/2.8 or f/5.6 (or whatever aperture range you plan to use). The results show that the photojournalists seem to choose the lowest ISO possible for the situation (based on the lighting), as this will result in the least amount of digital noise – interestingly the most used ISO settings actually went in order from 200, 400, 800, to 1600. The fact that ISO 100 came in next, but at a much smaller percentage seems to say: don’t risk it with 100 ISO – just use 200 ISO so that you don’t inadvertently use too slow of a shutter speed when the lighting level decreases but you aren’t paying attention to the exposure settings. The noise and sharpness difference between 100 and 200 is pretty negligible for most current cameras.

Don’t quite understand all these settings and the terminology?  Have a look at my Full Stop dSLR camera guides, such as Canon 5D Mark III Experience and Nikon D600 Experience, which cover not explain the functions, features, and controls of Nikon and Canon dSLR cameras, but more importantly how, when and why to make use of them in your photography.

full stop dslr photo photography camera manual guide for dummies canon nikon


Canon 6D Hands On Review

Several weeks ago I wrote a post previewing the Canon EOS 6D, based on its specs and information available at its announcement. I’ve now had some hands-on time and have done significant research on the camera and its functions and features as I work on my latest e-book camera guide Canon 6D Experience. So now I am able to share some more insight into the body, controls, features, and handling of this very nice new full frame dSLR camera. And thanks to Newtonville Camera of Newton, Mass. for getting it into my hands so quickly!

Canon 6D EOS unbox unboxing new full frame dslr review preview hands on test how to use manual guide dummies
The Canon EOS 6D Unboxing – shown here with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens attached, not the EF 24-105mm f.4L kit lens.

The EOS 6D is first “affordable” full frame camera from Canon, priced at about $2,100. This means it is a consumer level camera that boasts an image sensor the same size as a frame 35mm film – rather than the smaller APS-C sized sensors that have been the necessary compromise for so many years in order to offer highly capable dSLRs which are still affordable to enthusiast photographers. With the availability of the 6D, many more photographers will now be able to gain the benefits of full frame photography, including the ability to use your lenses at their “intended” focal lengths (no more 1.6x crop factor) as well as obtain great image quality, resolution, and low noise at high ISO settings.

The Canon 6D is aimed at intermediate and dedicated enthusiast photographers (and dSLR beginners willing to learn!), not only with its price and body size, but also with its features and straightforward controls and menus. It is obviously not as fully-featured as the professional-level 5D Mark III, yet it contains nearly every feature that the majority of “non-pro” photographers will need. Besides the much more basic 11 point autofocus system (vs. the 61 AF points of the 5DIII), what the 6D leaves off are often very specific customization options that even some pros never get around to figuring out or using. Plus the 6D adds a couple new features previously not yet seen on a Canon dSLR such as built-in WiFi and GPS.  Most importantly, with its 20.2 megapixel sensor, the image quality of the 6D should prove to be nearly at the level of the 22.3 megapixel 5D MkIII.

As the author of dSLR user guides, my primary interest is more with the controls, features, functions, and “real world” use of any camera – as opposed to the image quality/ sensor issues (resolution, dynamic range, noise, etc.), which I leave up to DP Review, DXOMark, and other sites to examine in depth.  Although I will discuss and give examples of some of these issues in this post, I direct you these other sites to view sample/ comparison images and read detailed discussions of sensor and image quality issues.

Body: Weight and Size: The very first thing I noticed when picking up the camera is how incredibly light it is.  Granted, it was just the body only without a lens attached yet, but I was pleasantly surprised at its light weight. The body only (w/o battery) weighs a mere 1.5 lb. (680g), much lighter (relatively) than the full frame 5D Mark III (1.9 lb./860g) and the APS-C sized 7D (1.8 lb./820g).  The EOS 6D is nearly the same weight – and size – as its closest sibling the (smaller APS-C sensor-sized) EOS 60D, and truly represents an important milestone in dSLR evolution where a full-frame sensor and several advanced features fit into a similar body as an mid/upper-level consumer camera.

Body: Controls and Feel:  The controls of the 6D are similar to those of the 60D. It shares many of the same buttons (though some are relocated) as well as the thumb-pad Multi-Controller that sits inside the rear Quick Control Dial. This replaces the thumb-joystick version of this controller that was seen on all non-Rebel Canon dSLR cameras up until the 60D. Personally I am still not a fan of this thumb-pad, as the joystick is more comfortably located for autofocus selection, and I also find that I sometimes accidentally hit the thumb-pad while turning the Quick Control Dial when navigating menus, and thus suddenly jump to a different menu option. I also prefer to have the Playback and Delete buttons on the left side, so that I can access them with my left thumb, perhaps due to much more experience and muscle-memory with that set-up. However, these are simply a matter of getting use to the locations and sensitivity of the controls – after some use, muscle memory and habit typically allows one to easily use the controls they are provided with. The top Main Dial (for adjusting aperture and changing various settings) has a great “soft” feel as if made of firm rubber rather than the harder plastic of lower-end models. The rubber of the grip areas also feels great, no complaints regarding the over-all ergonomics of holding and carrying the camera, and the body feels perfectly solid.

Canon 6D EOS unbox unboxing new full frame dslr review preview controls button autofocus hands on test how to use manual guide dummies
Detail of the Canon 6D, including some of the buttons and controls.

There are several “quirks” to get used to with the 6D if you are accustomed to working with a different Canon body such as a 50D, 7D, or one of the older 5D models. Primarily, the 6D has the new single Magnify Button introduced on the 5DIII, rather than the Zoom-in/ Zoom-out buttons of previous models. Your muscle memory will definitely cause you frustration with this one for awhile until you get used to reaching for this new button rather than using the top-right rear buttons for zooming in and out during image playback. Now during image playback, you press the Magnify Button located just above the Playback Button, and then use the top Main Dial to zoom in and out. One of the advantages of this Magnify Button is that its initial magnification level is customizable from 1x to “zoom-in immediately to pixel level on the area of the image where you focused” (Actual size from selected point). Instead of pressing the Playback Button and then zooming, you can simply press the Magnify Button and immediately view the image at your zoom-level of choice. I found that I actually prefer to set the Magnify Button for 1x zoom. Then after taking an image, I can press the Playback Button to view the thumbnail of the image with the histogram (since I leave this as my default Image Playback view), or press the Magnify Button to immediately see the image full-screen. Using the two buttons, I can easily toggle between these two views.  Others will enjoy immediately zooming in on the area where they focused to ensure that it is indeed in-focus.

As with the 7D and 5DIII, the 6D has the ability to customize the various buttons and controls of the camera. I recommend that you use these Custom Functions to set the Multi-Controller to AF Point direct selection. That way you can simply use the Multi-Controller to manually select your desired AF Point instead of having to first press the AF Point Selection Button. However, if you do this, the SET Button will not select the center AF Point, as you may be used to from other cameras. Instead it will activate whichever function you set the SET Button for. But if you press the AF Point Selection Button first and then use the Multi-Controller, you can then still use the SET Button to select the center AF Point, which can be very convenient for quickly choosing this point.

The 6D has the Live View/ Movie switch and START/STOP Button which makes it quick and easy to switch between the two, start Live View, or begin Movie recording. However, this may bring you to another “quirk” (ok, it is not really a “quirk,” more a necessity of design and function, but until you realize that you may feel like it is a quirk!).  There are a couple functions that will be greyed-out in your menus if you have a certain conflicting setting option set. For example, some features will not be available (like HDR Mode) if you have the image quality set for RAW or JPEG+RAW.  You will have to switch to JPEG only in order to access these features.  Or you cannot access the Multi Shot Noise Reduction feature if you have Long Exposure Noise Reduction enabled or if you are shooting in RAW. This is bound to aggravate you at first as you try to determine why the function is greyed-out and not accessible in the menus. So, back to the Movie function, you cannot begin movie shooting if you have WiFi enabled. Thankfully with this particular incompatibility, the camera will alert you to this on the rear LCD Monitor. With the other conflicting settings, you are simply going to have to learn and remember the conflicting option.

As with the 60D, the 6D has the top row of buttons that only access one function (such as ISO or Drive Mode) rather than two functions as with previous/ other Canon models. However, this means you can press the button and then use either the top Main Dial or the rear Quick Control Dial to change the function. Or you can always use the [Q] Button and Quick Control Screen to access these functions or other functions that there is not a dedicated button for, such as Image Quality, White Balance, or Flash Exposure Compensation. And Canon has continued the use of the locking Mode Dial, which I prefer as there have been many times my 50D Mode Dial was accidentally turned when pulling the camera out of its bag.

Brief Commercial Interruption: I have completed my e-book guide to the Canon 6D, called Canon 6D Experience. The guide covers all the controls, functions, features, Menus options and Custom Function settings (with recommended settings), autofocus system, exposure, metering, and more. Plus most importantly, it explains how, when, and why to use the various controls, features, and functions of the 6D. Click the link above or the cover to learn more, preview, and purchase the guide.

Canon 6D EOS book manual dummies field guide instruction tutorial how to use learn full frame autofocus system

Use and Response: There really isn’t too much I can say about the 6D in action, as it performs as expected.  Not really any complaints, aside from my personal issues with the controls issues I described above.  The autofocus response is quick and accurate in normal use. I realize now that I was paying more attention to my photographic tasks and wasn’t paying particular attention to the AF performance as I was out and about with the camera, and didn’t specifically test the center vs. outer points, so I need to get back out and do that.  But on the other hand I didn’t notice and wasn’t limited by any issues or shortcomings.  In low light, night-time scenes, such as the in-camera Multiple Exposure image below and the in-camera HDR image above, the camera locked right on and focused well with the center and outer points. In extremely low light when using the outer points, it did not seem to react as quick and instantaneous – in my experience so far – as the highly advanced AF system of the 5DIII. For example the 5DIII could immediately find focus on the black face of a cat in very low light, while the 6D needed me to find a slightly stronger area of contrast on the kitty’s face before it locked on. But you can see from the exposure settings and the lack of contrast in the focus area of the image below, it still performed rather admirably for the situation (I focused just above the eye and recomposed slightly).

Canon 6D eos in camera hdr mode autofocus af system low light high iso hand held
Canon 6D – In-camera HDR Mode, with three images automatically combined and processed in-camera. “Adjust Dynamic Range” setting +/-1, “Auto Align” enabled, hand-held. Resulting image 1/40, f/2.8, ISO 6400. This image was also automatically geotagged with the GPS, as can be seen on Flickr.

A closer look at the above image.  I focused at about the center of this image, where the white meets the blue dome, though it may have focused on the closer branches.  Keep in mind this was handheld, for 3 images that were aligned and combined in camera.

The center cross-type AF point of the 6D is said to be even more sensitive (both in specifications and by users in real life use) than that of the 5DIII (according to Canon, the 6D center point is EV -3 while the outer points are EV +0.5; 5DIII is EV -2 all points; 60D is EV 0 all points).  Unfortunately I now realize I did not test the center point in this situation, and I will have to go back and do that.  So, I acknowledge it is premature for me to take away any conclusions about the extreme low light AF performance of center vs. outer points before I re-examine this further. Others are already saying that the center AF Point is stellar in very low light. And I did not test the AF system for tracking moving subjects using AI Servo yet. What does all this EV info mean?  If you are a wedding photographer or a concert photographer and simply need to get the shot and capture a very precise moment with no delay, then you may prefer to work with the 5D Mk III. If you are not working on assignment and perhaps have 1 extra second to re-position an outer AF point on an area of slight contrast, or else use the center AF point and recompose in dark situations, then you will certainly still be able to capture great low light shots with the 6D.

Canon 6d autofocus af low light auto focus system sample image center outer af point
Canon 6D Autofocus in low light – I had to focus just above the eye where dark meets light, and then I slightly recomposed. But as you can see from the settings, it was very low light, and that type of performance is a major accomplishment for any camera: f/2.5 1/60 ISO 6400 (screenshot from DPP in order to show AF points.)

A closer look at the above image. I think due to the high ISO setting some sharpness was lost, but that could be recovered with sharpening.

WiFi: The Canon 6D is the first of their dSLR models to incorporate built-in WiFi and GPS capabilities. Neither of these is something I thought I needed – but I can already see the benefits. With the 6D you can wirelessly connect your camera to your computer, smart phone/ tablet, wireless network, printer, or TV to perform a variety of functions:

Computer: when wirelessly connected to your computer, you can make use of the included EOS Utility software to remotely control the camera (change settings and release the shutter) and save the images directly to your computer.  Previously you could do this only through the use of a USB cable.

Canon 6D wifi wireless tablet ipad iphone smartphone android share connect upload test review preview hands on
Canon 6D WiFi – Control the camera remotely with an iPhone, iPad, or tablet.  Here the aperture setting is being changed, and the focus area is positioned on the subject.

Smart Phone/ Tablet: You can also control your camera through your smart device (iPad, iPhone, Android phone or tablet) using the free EOS Remote app, and this takes it to a higher level than with EOS Utility. You can actually monitor on your device what the camera is seeing, as if you are seeing the camera’s Live View screen on your device.  You can change some settings (like aperture, shutter speed, ISO), move and resize the focus area to tell the camera where to focus, and release the shutter. You can also view the images that are on the camera’s memory card, and transfer images from your camera to the device, however they will be reduced size JPEGs.

Wireless Network – Internet Services: You can set up your camera with websites including Canon Image Gateway, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube, and directly send images or videos to these sites – straight from the camera! (Some instances like Twitter will merely share a link to the image on Canon Image Gateway, but with Facebook the actual image will appear.)

Canon 6D wifi wireless facebook share connect upload test review preview hands on
Canon 6D WiFi – Send your images directly to Facebook (or links to Twitter, or movies to YouTube) straight from the camera.

TV and Printer: You can wirelessly show a slideshow of the images on your camera with a compatible TV, or print images directly from the camera with a wireless compatible printer.

The great thing about these wireless functions is that they are actually easy to set up and use (at least in my experience). By following the simple instructions in the manuals and the prompts on the camera’s screen and the software and apps, you can just keep clicking OK (and enter your password and name your connections) as the camera finds the network or device and connects them together. The EOS Utility software also automatically installs a “device pairing” function on your computer that finds the camera and easily lets you connect. The biggest challenge was setting up the connections to the Internet sites (Facebook, Twitter)  since the instructions were not straightforward. But once you determine that you need to first connect the camera via USB to the computer then open EOS Utility, the right set-up screen is available on EOS Utility.  Then the Internet sites can be selected and registered with the camera, and it works great. There are lots of intimidating wireless set-up option screens on the camera that may have to be used if the connections to your wireless network or devices are not so straightforward.

GPS: The built-in GPS function can be enabled so that your images are automatically geotagged with data such as location and elevation. You can even log your camera’s journey – even when the camera is turned off (as long as it can “see” the satellites) – and then view the route on a Google map (with the included Map Utility software). You can set the camera to communicate with the satellites at anywhere from every 1 second to every 5 minutes, though note that this will drain the battery to some extent.

Functions and Features: The 6D has all of the features of the other current Canon dSLRs, such as in-camera HDR Mode, Multiple Exposure Mode, Handheld Night Scene mode, and various Noise Reduction features. In my standard camera use, I don’t typically have a need for many of these types of features, but they might come in handy or be fun to experiment with for many users. The image rating option is also included and can be quickly accessed during image playback. While initially this seemed unnecessary for me, I have found that it is a great time saver for marking either really good images or likely deletions, both of which require a quick review on a full size monitor once back at my computer – and now can be easily located with their 1 to 5 star rating.

Canon 6D EOS multiple exposure how to manual instruction use review preview hands on tutorial dummies guide book
Canon 6D Multiple Exposure mode used to create a multiple exposure image in-camera, combining three images. Multiple Exposure Control setting: “Average” used here, as it works best for night/ dark scenes. This image was also automatically geotagged with the built-in GPS, as can be seen on Flickr.

The fast Digic 5+ processor of the 6D also allows for some lens correction features – Peripheral Illumination Correction and Chromatic Aberration Correction – to correct for issues introduced with some lenses, several of which are pre-registered in the camera. These types of corrections can also be done with specific lens profiles in Lightroom or Photoshop, so you will need to decide if you want to make these corrections with more control in post processing.  However, if you will be outputting JPEG files, you may want to take advantage of this in-camera.  You can even apply the corrections in-camera after the fact if you have shot in RAW. There are also several other in-camera RAW processing options which will allow you to fully process the image in camera (for brightness, Picture Style, White Balance, JPEG size, etc.) and output a JPEG file for immediate use.

One other nice feature is that not only does the 6D have lens autofocus microadjustment capability to correct for minor autofocusing distance issues, but (as with the 5D Mk III) you can adjust separately for the wide end and tele end of a zoom lens! Of course this means a lot more work in your AF microadjustment process. Also, through the Custom Functions you can choose the number of shots to take during bracketing, either 3, 2, 5, or 7. This is extremely desired by HDR shooters who were previously frustrated with the 3 shot limit.

On the down-side, the 6D has a relatively slow continuous shooting speed of 4.5 frames per second, and no Low-speed and High-speed Continuous settings – unless of course you use Silent Continuous Shooting at 3fps (though be aware that use of the Silent Drive Modes can result in slight shutter lag). This slower maximum rate, along with the less sophisticated 11 point AF system may limit the camera’s appeal to sports and action shooters who need to track moving subjects. (“Less sophisticated” = not as many AF Points as the 7D or 5DIII, only 1 cross-type AF Point, not as many options to customize how it tracks and responds to moving subjects.) Action photographers should look instead at the Canon 7D or 5D Mark III.) On an unrelated note, I should also mention that the 6D has a slower 1/180 flash sync speed.

Menus and Custom Functions: The 6D has the standard menu interface and options as the other current models. You can adjust and customize a few more settings than with the 60D, but the menus are reduced and simplified a bit from the 5DIII.  For an enthusiast photographer this is generally a good thing, as the 6D contains most all of the customization options that you will need, without overwhelming you with extremely specific or advanced items that are found on the 5D Mk III. After becoming familiar with the 5DIII however, it is interesting to note what options were left off, such as additional Multiple Exposure and in-camera HDR Mode processing options, no Auto level for LCD Brightness, and the elimination of some of the extremely precise, nearly “hidden” Custom Controls sub-sub-menus and options.

But the 6D does contain the additional ISO settings used to specify the minimum and maximum ISO available for you – or the camera in Auto ISO – to select, plus the minimum shutter speed for the camera to use in Auto ISO.  If you choose to use Auto Lighting Optimizer, you can tell the camera to turn it off when shooting in M (since you will want full control of your exposures and don’t want the camera to over-ride your careful settings).  A nice feature is the Safety Shift options, where instead of merely enabling the camera to over-ride your settings if it needs to in order to obtain the proper exposure, you can specifically tell it shift either the shutter speed/ aperture setting, or the ISO setting.  Generally, I believe, it will be better to shift the ISO setting in order to obtain the exposure, as you probably intentionally selected your aperture or shutter speed. The Custom Setting for autofocus Tracking Sensitivity now helpfully lists the options as “Locked On” and “Responsive” rather than the previous vague and confusing notations, so you can tell the camera to remain locked-on to your subject or to be more responsive and begin focusing on a new subject that enters the field of view of your active AF Point.

The Orientation Linked AF Point feature is much simplified from the 7D and 5DIII in that you do not need to pre-register the desired points, but rather the camera makes use of the current, manually selected AF points for each specific camera orientation, and then returns to them when you hold the camera in that orientation.

Image Quality: I am not a pixel peeper, I am more of the “just get out there and shoot” variety, and I believe that most all the current consumer cameras – including the 6D – offer more than enough in terms of image quality and low noise for most every photography from enthusiast to semi-pro. So I will leave it up to DP Review and other sites to evaluate the image quality and sensor performance. I have shot some informal ISO tests, which can be viewed on Flickr. For pixel peepers, here is a 6400 ISO, 100% crop detail of the scene below, with no in-camera Noise Reduction or White Balance correction.

Canon 6D high iso noise full frame test review preview hands on
Canon 6D full frame sensor – high ISO noise performance. Click image to see larger version with notes of all the settings.

Video: Oops, I just realized that I forgot to discuss this in the review!  I will come back to this, but it is interesting to note that while the 6D has manual audio input level control, the Wind Filter and Attenuator, it lacks a headphone jack for monitoring audio.

Manuals: Canon has unfortunately followed the trend of not including the full printed manuals with the camera.  While the camera comes with the printed version of the basic instruction manual and “pocket guide” for the camera, plus the basic WiFi/ GPS manual, you have to access the PDF files on the included disc for the full camera manual, the full detailed manual for WiFi, plus the instruction manuals for the software including Map Utility and EOS Utility. Of course you need the full manual to properly set up and learn all the features of the camera, plus you will need to look at some of the the other manuals in order to learn how to get your camera connected to Internet services.  It is a bit frustrating not to have these at hand to quickly refer to.  Fortunately if you have an iPad or tablet, you can download the PDF version of all the manuals from the Canon website and easily read and search through them and take them with you.

However, to quickly learn all the essential and important features of the camera, how to set up the menus and Custom Functions, and learn how, when, and why to use the various controls, features, and functions of the Canon 6D, have a look at my e-book guide Canon 6D Experience.

Canon 6D EOS book manual dummies field guide instruction tutorial how to use learn full frame autofocus system

Conclusion: Overall I think the Canon 6D is an excellent dSLR camera, a very good value for the price, and should easily meet or exceed the needs of most enthusiast and dedicated photographers. It provides the wonderful possibility for a non-pro or aspiring-pro to finally shoot with an affordable full-frame camera. Landscape photographers should enjoy this, as their wide angle lenses will once again act as true wide angle lenses, and be able to capture sweeping vistas.  It should provide general, portrait, and travel photographers with the controls, features, durability, and image quality they desire. Sports, wildlife, and action photographers may not find what they need, however, due to the limited 4.5 frames per second continuous shooting speed and the less sophisticated 11 point autofocus system with only one cross-type point. edit 12/13/12DXOMark summarized it well when they concluded that the 6D “is a high-end, full-frame camera ideal for enthusiast and advanced photographers, or professional photographers looking for a second camera body. Its resolution and AF system mark it out as a camera that is aimed at those shooting portraits or landscapes, where good resolution and a full-frame sensor are key, but where the fastest AF is not as important.”

Designed as a consumer-level camera, a few features (or lack of features) – such as those mentioned – obviously prevent it from being a full-fledged professional level body for highly demanding users (at least not the primary body), but its sensor, image quality, and capabilities will certainly provide anyone with the potential to take professional quality images – and in most situations capture exactly the image you intend. And that, in the end, is the number one goal of photography!

If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to share it, mention it, or link to it!

If you are going to be ordering your Canon 6D online, please consider using my affiliate links below or on the left side of the page (Amazon, B and H, Adorama). Your camera (or other gear) will be the same price, but they will give me a small referral bonus – thanks!

Canon 6D on Amazon (body only or 24-105mm f/4L kit)

Canon 6D at B and H Photo – body only

Canon 6D at B and H Photo – with the 24-105mm f/4L IS kit lens

New Nikon Camera and Canon Lenses

There is a lot of exciting news today, and not just with the US Presidential election but also on the dSLR front. Nikon has announced the new Nikon D5200 upper-entry-level dSLR and Canon has announced the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM lens.  Yes, a 24-70mm with Image Stabilization! Plus they announced  the EF 35mm f/2 IS USM lens.

The Nikon D5200 is a pretty big leap for an upper-entry level camera in that not only does it boast the 24 megapixels of the new Nikon D600, it also incorporates the 39-point autofocus system of the D7000 (and D600).  This is a sophisticated, complex AF system that was challenging for many experienced enthusiasts to learn, so it is going to be an interesting challenge for those with much less dSLR experience. A very interesting move by Nikon.

Nikon D5200 dslr 39 point autofocus AF

The new Canon 24-70mm F/4L IS, with Image Stabilization, is designed to be the kit lens for the upcoming Canon 6D, though it will also make a great lens for any other Canon dSLR. It is going to create a very difficult decision for photographers who will have to weigh the pros and cons of the 25-105 f/4 IS (with Image Stabilization too), the original 24-70 f/2.8L or newer 24-70 f/2L II (both without Image Stabilization), and the brand new 24-70 f/4L IS – which adds Image Stabilization.

Canon 24-70mm lens ef is image stabilization f4 f/4

The original 24-70 f/2.8L quickly became my main walk-about lens immediately after obtaining it, so I can say that it is a wonderful lens and a great focal length.  Have the additional reach of the 24-105mm f/4L IS would be great, but I didn’t want to give up the wide f/2.8 aperture which creates even greater background blurring. Now people are going to have to analyze the Image Stabilization vs. the f/2.8 or f/4 aperture vs. the additional reach of the 24-105mm (especially on a full-frame camera) vs. the price vs. image quality vs. size and weight.  Not an easy decision! Perhaps when I get a chance, I will try to break it down and try to help with the decision.  Just know, before you lose your mind analyzing the pros and cons of each element, each of these lenses has amazing performance, built, and image quality.  You really can’t go wrong with any of them. Just pick one and start shooting!

And perhaps most exciting, Canon has introduced the Mark II lens caps! Finally, a center-pinch cap that can easily be accessed inside a lens hood.  I know you had to copy Nikon to do this, but thank you Canon!

Canon lens cap center centre pinch new

Anticipating the Canon EOS M Mirrorless Camera

Canon EOS M Mirrorless Interchangable Lens Camera

Several weeks ago Canon announced their long anticipated entry into the mirrorless camera segment, the Canon EOS M.  While Olympus and Panasonic were early pioneers in this market, Sony soon joined them and raised the bar with their NEX line, including the current NEX-5 and NEX-7 (and upcoming NEX-6).  Nikon then came along with their Nikon 1 series, the J1 and V1, leaving Canon as the last of the major players to bring out a mirrorless offering.

Canon EOS M mirrorless camera
Canon EOS M – Image courtesy of Canon USA

Mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras are a sort-of hybrid of a high-end compact camera and a dSLR system – with various advantages and disadvantages born of this mix.  Then are much smaller and lighter than a dSLR, while still allowing one to change lenses.  Thus rather than a lower-quality all-purpose built-in zoom of a compact, one can use a variety of lenses to fit their needs (wide angle, telephoto zoom, etc.) and allow them greater control over aperture settings and depth of field.  However, many of the cameras require the use of smaller (and lighter) lenses specifically designed for the mirrorless body, and most manufacturers offer a very limited set of lenses at this time.  Many brands offer adapters to allow the use of dSLR lenses, but adding a larger and heavier lens may defeat the purpose of a small, light, portable mirrorless body!

Mirrorless cameras don’t have an optical viewfinder but instead use a rear LCD screen like a compact camera – plus some models offer a standard or optional electronic viewfinder (a teeny tiny LCD screen in a viewfinder).  One of the important advantages is that the mirrorless cameras contain a much larger image sensor than most compact cameras, with some of them (such as the Sony NEX models) even boasting an APS-C size sensor.  (APS-C is the same size as found in most entry level, intermediate, and pro-sumer dSLR cameras from the Canon T4i or Nikon D3200 to the Canon 7D or Nikon D7000 and D300S.  Professional dSLR cameras such as the Canon 5D line and the Nikon D700/D800 have a larger, full frame sized sensor).  These larger sensors provide much better image quality and better low light / high ISO performance than most every compact camera.

Mirrorless cameras don’t share the same phase detection autofocus system as a dSLR with a dedicated AF sensor, but instead have a contrast-detection AF system that uses the image sensor to focus, just as if using a dSLR in Live View mode.  This contrast AF system is typically slower than the dSLR system, which contributes to a bit more shutter lag than the near-instantaneous response of a dSLR shutter.  However great improvements have been made in the AF systems and shutter lag of the mirrorless cameras.

While the new Canon EOS M is not yet out there for real world use and review, many including myself are very pleasantly surprised with all that it offers, based on its specs.  The EOS M take nearly all of the great features and capabilities of the extremely competent Canon T4i dSLR, and packages it in a small, light, and portable body.  The major difference of course is of the phase detection AF system of the T4i which is not able to be fit and used inside the EOS M.  The EOS M is thus very comparable to using the T4i in Live View.

Canon EOS M mirrorless camera
Canon EOS M – Image courtesy of Canon USA

Canon EOS M mirrorless camera
Canon EOS M – Image courtesy of Canon USA


Top Ten Accessories for the Canon T5i / EOS 700D

Now that you’ve decided on the Canon Rebel T5i / EOS 700D (or Canon Rebel T4i / EOS 650DCanon Rebel T3i / EOS 600D) you’ll want to get the basic, essential accessories. Don’t get carried away yet with elaborate flash modifiers and color balance correction tools before you gain some experience and determine which advanced accessories you will really need and use. But you can’t go wrong with these initial 10 additions to your camera bag. Click on the links or the images to view and purchase them on or from the manufacturer (and help support my blog by doing so – thanks!)

1. SanDisk Extreme 8GB or 16GB Memory Card – You are going to need a high quality, high speed memory card to save all those images and capture those videos. Go with the best and don’t risk corruption and errors – a SanDisk Extreme. Perhaps a couple 8GB, 16GB, or even 32GB capacity Secure Digital (SD) cards to capture and store your photos – more if traveling. Use at least class 6 cards, or better yet class 10 if you will be shooting video.  Be sure to check the Sandisk site for current rebates.

2. Canon LP-E8 Battery – You will probably want a spare battery, especially if you are traveling, or just for those times you forgot to charge the battery before going to an important event. Go with the official Canon brand and avoid battery communication and charging issues. If you are a fan of the optional battery back / vertical grip, the one for the T3i and T4i is the Canon BG-E8. The battery grip allows you to use 2 LP-E8 batteries for extended shooting, or six AA batteries, and also increases the size of the camera body, which some users find more ergonomically comfortable, especially when shooting in the portrait orientation.

3. Canon T5i/700D Experience e-book (or Canon T4i Experience E Book or Canon T3i Experience E Book) – You will want to go beyond Auto and learn to use the advanced functions and settings of your sophisticated camera, so be sure to check out my e books, Canon T5i/700D Experience, Canon T4i Experience and Canon T3i Experience. They will help you to take control of your camera so that you can consistently take better images – the images you wish to capture. You’ve invested the money in an advanced camera, now invest the time to learn how to use it to its full potential! (There is also a Canon T2i Experience book available.)

Canon Rebel T5i 700D EOS book manual guide dummies how to tutorial tips tricks learn use setup     Canon T4i EOS 650D book ebook how to manual dummies field guide    

4. Black Rapid RS7 Strap – This sling-style camera strap provides a more comfortable and practical – and somewhat more discreet – way to carry around your camera, especially if you have a larger lens on it. They also make a couple of slightly different versions of the sling-strap, such as one designed for women, and a active “sport” version.

5. Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod Legs and Manfrotto 496RC2 Ball Head:  This is an excellent “starter” combination of tripod legs and head for the enthusiast.  They are sturdy and durable yet affordable.  If you know you will be doing a lot of tripod work, such as for studio, landscape, or travel photography, it is best to invest in more advanced (expensive) versions, including lighter carbon fiber legs, four section legs that close to a shorter length, and a head with additional or specialized features.


6. Giottos Large Rocket Blower – Blow the dust off your lens, camera body, interior, and sensor safely with the Rocket Blower. Get the large size for maximum “whoosh!” Use with the LensPEN Lens Cleaning System to clean those fingerprints, smudges, and mysterious spots off your camera lens (filter) safely and quickly with the LensPEN. Brush off the loose spots with the brush end, “charge” the tip with a twist of the cap, then clean by “drawing” in a circular motion. Read the manufacturer’s instruction for complete details.


7. Canon 430EX II Speedlite Flash – Upgrade to the Canon Speedlite Flash to obtain more flash power and control for your low light pictures. Take advantage of the T3i’s wireless remote flash capabilities. Rotate and bounce your flash for more flattering indirect light, diffuse it and scatter it for less harsh shadows. Consider the Canon 580EX II Speedlite for more advanced needs.

7a. Stofen Omni Bounce Diffuser – Diffuse and scatter the light from your Speedlite flash with the Omni Bounce Diffuser to eliminate harsh shadows. Use it with your flash head at a 45 degree angle up, or to the side or behind you, as it is designed to be used. Don’t aim it straight on, and don’t use it outside. I don’t care if you see others doing that, even if they have a 5D and a big lens – they don’t know that all they are doing is wasting flash power and not affecting the results.

8. B+W Brand UV Filter – Protect your lens from scratches, dust, and impact damage with a high-quality, multi-coated B+W brand UV filter. It generally shouldn’t affect your image quality due to its high quality glass and coatings, and it just may save you from a $200 repair. Leave one on each of your lenses at all times, unless you are using another filter like the circular polarizer. Be sure to get the right size filter for your lens.

8a. B+W Brand Circular Polarizer Filter – Use this high-quality, multi-coated filter to dramatically darken skies, increase contrast, and cut through reflections. Turn the rotating lens to adjust the amount of darkening or reflection.

9. Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens – After you’ve realized the limitations of the kit lens in both quality and focal range, pair your T3i with this high quality all-purpose “walk-around” lens, great for everyday and travel use. It provides the full focal range from wide angle to telephoto, and delivers excellent image quality, color, and contrast, as well as Image Stabilization to prevent blur from camera movement.

9a. EW 78D Lens Hood – And you will want the lens hood for the 18-200mm lens, to shade the lens from unwanted glare and flare and protect it from bumps and bangs.

10. M Rock Holster Bag – Carry and protect your camera and walk-around lens in a holster style bag from M Rock. I used the Yellowstone style extensively in my travels throughout South America, and I love its durability and extra little features like a built-in rain cover, micro-fiber cleaning cloth, zippered interior pocket, adjustable interior, and extra strap. Be sure to get the model that fits your camera body and lens-length.

Bonus. Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson – If you don’t yet understand the relationship between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, read this book immediately. This knowledge is essential to understanding and using your powerful dSLR to its full potential.

For additional photography gear, accessories, and books, be sure to check out my dSLR Photography Gear, Accessories, and Books post!

What the Canon 7D Firmware 2 Upgrade Will Do For You

Soon after the release of the long awaited 5D Mark III professional full-frame dSLR, Canon announced that it would update the firmware of the EOS 7D to expand its functions and to add several new menu items that had been introduced on the 5D Mk III (as well as some additional features). And now, this Canon 7D Firmware 2 update is here! You can download it from Canon on the 7D product page:

Canon 7D Firmware 2 2.0 EOS upgrade update

With this update, Canon has increased the versatility and boosted the capabilities of the popular and powerful 7D. These improvements now give you more control over Auto ISO settings and over audio recording during Movie shooting, quick access to new and existing editing features during playback, and in-camera RAW processing. The 7D is also now compatible with the optional Canon GP-E2 GPS Receiver. Perhaps most dramatically, the maximum continuous burst capability has been increased so that the 7D is now able to shoot more continuous frames before pausing: up to 25 RAW or 130 JPEG images when using a 128GB UDMA card, or 23 RAW and 110 JPEG images when using a standard (8GB minimum) CompactFlash card. When saving both RAW+JPEG image files, the camera has improved from 6 consecutive shots to 17.

Here are all of the Canon EOS 7D Firmware 2 improvements:

  • Option to set the time zone and daylight saving time along with the date. Now when you travel, you merely have to adjust the time zone setting for your destination and not reset the time.
  • Increased maximum burst during continuous shooting. This is a fantastic update for those shooting long continuous bursts, allowing you to shoot 23 RAW or 110 consecutive JPEG images when using a typical memory card, or even 17 RAW+JPEG images over the previous 6. Invest in a 128GB UDMA card and shoot 25 RAW or 130 JPEG consecutively.
  • Ability to set the desired maximum ISO Auto setting. Now when using Auto ISO you can select the maximum ISO setting, between 400 and 6400, that the camera will choose – to avoid creeping into unwanted noisy ISO settings.
  • Registering or changing the file name prefix of JPEG and RAW files. If you have the need to customize the file name prefix of your images, due to using more than one camera or any other reason, the camera now offers you a few different ways to do this.
  • Manual adjustment of audio recording levels for Movie shooting (64 levels). Like the 5DIII, you can now adjust the audio level while shooting video. While the in-camera microphone is mono, an optional external mic can record in stereo.

Canon 7D eos firmware 2 2.0 update video movie sound audio recording level manual adjust

  • Option to rate images (1 to 5 stars). You can now rate your images in-camera, which can help you to get a head start on editing.
  • Added option to Jump through images by Rating. The rating can also be used in conjunction with Image Jump or when putting together a slide show.
  • Quicker scrolling of magnified image view during playback. This is an unexpected but welcomed update to help make in-camera image review a bit easier.
  • Quick Control screen during playback to easily access various image options. The various Quick Control screens can often be the quickest and easiest way to access and change a variety of settings and features. The camera has now added a convenient Quick Control Screen for image playback. When reviewing an image, or when in Live View or Movie Shooting Modes, pressing the [Q] Button will bring up Quick Control screens specific to those operations. The Playback Quick Control Screen allows you to easily access image functions including Protect, Rotate, Rating, RAW image processing, Resize JPEG, Highlight Alert, AF Point Display, and Image Jump. During Live View shooting, you can quickly access Auto Lighting Optimizer and the image recording quality by pressing the [Q] Button. During Movie shooting, pressing the [Q] Button will allow you to quickly access similar functions as with Live View plus the movie recording size setting.

Canon 7D eos firmware 2 2.0 update quick control rating q screen

  • RAW image processing in-camera. Now you can process RAW images in-camera and then save them as JPEG images. This is useful if you need to quickly output a processed file, and you can apply a White Balance, Picture Style (and adjust its variables), Auto Lighting Optimizer, High ISO Speed Noise Reduction, choose the JPEG Image Quality output, select the Color Space (sRGB, AdobeRGB), and utilize Peripheral Illumination, Distortion, and Lens Aberration corrections.

Canon 7D eos firmware 2 2.0 update raw processing in camera

  • Ability to resize JPEG images in-camera. This new menu item can be used to resize (reduce only) a JPEG image in-camera, which could be useful if you need to quickly output a smaller JPEG file (with lower pixel count). You can also use the [Q] Button during image playback to quickly access Resize.
  • GPS settings menu and added compatibility with optional Canon GPS device. The 7D is now compatible with the optional Canon GPS Receiver GP-E2, which will allow you to record location information as part of the EXIF data of your image including elevation, direction, longitude, and latitude.

My e-book camera guide Canon 7D Experience is being updated to incorporate all the EOS 7D Firmware 2 updates. If you have already bought the guide from my Full Stop website or from Amazon you will be contacted about how to obtain the revised guide. This updated guide, perhaps the only Canon 7D guide incorporating Firmware 2 additions, should be available by mid-August.

Canon EOS 7d manual guide book firmware 2 update 2.0

The First User’s Guide to the Canon Rebel T4i / EOS 650D Now Available!

Canon T4i / 650D Experience, my most recent Full Stop dSLR e-book and the first available user’s guide to the T4i / 650D, goes beyond the manual to help you learn the features, settings, and controls of the advanced and versatile T4i / 650D, plus most importantly how, when, and why to use the functions, settings, and controls in your photography.

Written in the clear, concise, and comprehensive style of all Full Stop guides, Canon T4i / 650D Experience will help you learn to use your Canon T4i / 650D quickly and competently, to consistently create the types of images you want to capture. The e-book is available in PDF format for reading on your computer, e-reader, or tablet.

Learn more about it, preview it, and purchase it here:

As one reader has said about the previous Canon T3i Experience e-book:A Must-Have Accessory – What a great addition to my bag. This is a well written, full body of work that explains, in plain English, how to get the most out of my new camera.  Doug provides the knowledge and experience to bring you to the next level.  I look forward to learning more every time I open the book.”

Take control of your Rebel T4i / EOS 650D, the image taking process, and the photos you create!

Canon Rebel T4i 650D book ebook manual guide tutorial instruction bible how to dummies field EOS

For beginner, intermediate and enthusiast photographers:  This Canon T4i / 650D e-book is for those who wish to get more out of their camera and to go beyond Auto+ and Program modes and shoot in Aperture Priority (Av), Shutter Priority (Tv), and Manual (M) modes. To get your camera set up, it begins with explanations and recommended settings for all Menu settings, Custom Function options, and Movie Mode Menu settings of the T4i / 650D.  It covers basic dSLR camera functions and exposure concepts for those new to digital SLR photography, and explains more advanced camera controls and operation, such as using the various metering modes and exposure compensation for correct exposure of every image, controlling autofocus modes and focus points for sharp focus of still or moving subjects, and making use of the camera’s new multi-shot exposure modes.

Canon T4i / 650D Experience focuses on still-photography with an introduction to the movie menus and settings to get you up and running with video. Sections include:

  • Setting Up Your Camera – All of the Menu settings and Custom Function settings for the T4i / 650D, including movie mode menus, with brief descriptions and recommended settings for practical, everyday use. Set up and customize the advanced features of this dSLR to work best for the way you photograph.
  • Camera Controls – Description of all of the camera’s controls, plus when and why to use them, including how to take advantage of the new Touch Screen and Quick Control settings screens.
  • Aperture Priority (Av), Shutter Priority (Tv), and Manual (M) Modes – How and when to use them to create dramatic depth of field, freeze or express motion, or take total control over exposure settings.
  • Auto Focusing Modes and Drive Modes – How they differ, how and when to use them to capture sharp images of both still and moving subjects. Also how and when to use focus lock and back-button focusing.
  • Exposure Metering Modes of the Canon T4i / 650D – How they differ, how and when to use them for correct exposures in every situation. Also how to make use of exposure lock.
  • Histograms, Exposure Compensation, Bracketing, and White Balance – Understanding and using these features for adjusting to the proper exposure in challenging lighting situations.
  • Lenses – Explanation of Canon lenses and choosing your next lens.
  • Composition – Brief tips, techniques, and explanations, including the creative use of depth of field.
  • The Image Taking Process – A descriptive tutorial for using the settings and controls you just learned to take still and action photos.
  • Photography Accessories – The most useful accessories for day-to-day and travel photography including those specific to this camera, plus recommended photography books.
  • Introduction to Video Settings – Some basic settings to get you started.

This digital guide to the Canon Rebel T4i / EOS 650D is a 165 page illustrated e-book that goes beyond the manual to explain how, when, and why to use the features, settings, and controls of the T4i / 650D to help you get the most from your camera.

Learn more about Canon T4i / 650D Experience e book manual for the Rebel T4i / EOS 650D on my Full Stop website here:


Canon Rebel T4i / 650D vs. EOS 60D

Canon Rebel T4i vs. EOS 60D

I first introduced and discussed the new Canon Rebel T4i in this recent post, Introduction the the Canon Rebel T4i.  I encourage you to read that first to learn about all the features of the T4i. Then you may be wondering about how to choose between the T4i vs. the Canon EOS 60D, so I go into more detail about that here:

The predecessor to the T4i, the T3i, shared several important features with the 60D including the same 18 MP image sensor and the 63 zone exposure metering mode, both allowing you to get great, high-quality, well exposed images even in challenging lighting situations.  However, the T3i lacked a couple critical features that dedicated enthusiast photographers might eventually find that they would need, even if they weren’t ready or knowledgeable enough to use them right away.  They might have found that the less accurate autofocus system was eventually not up to their needs and that the slower continuous shooting speed limited the moments they could capture.

Canon Rebel T4i EOS 650D unbox unboxing compare vs T3i 60D choose decide

As I discussed above, the new Canon Rebel T4i / 600D demonstrates a significant leap in the “trickle-down” trend by borrowing several additional important features from the 60D, including the more accurate all-cross-type 9 point autofocus system and 5 frames per second, faster continuous shooting speed.  The fact that both of these cameras, the T4i and 60D, now share numerous key features, it is obviously a challenge to decide between them.

There are still a few features, however, that may help you decide one way or the other. The T4i has added continuous autofocusing while shooting video and a couple new Movie autofocus modes to best make use of this.  If you intend to shoot lots of video with your camera, this could be an important deciding factor. The T4i also adds a Touch Screen, allowing you to change settings, navigate menus, and browse through images with iPhone-like multi-touch gestures.  This isn’t a vital feature for taking better images, but it may be a convenience issue that makes a difference.

But the 60D still holds some important advantages for those who intend to be serious and dedicated to their photography, and who wish to use their camera as a versatile tool to fit with how they shoot. The 60D still offers a bigger and brighter viewfinder, additional external buttons and controls which makes changing camera settings on the fly much quicker and easier.  For example it has the metering mode, autofocus mode, etc. buttons right on top for easy access, plus the large Quick Control Dial on the rear of the camera to quickly change exposure compensation or to help with changing settings and rapidly moving through menus, and the all-important AF-ON button allowing more control over autofocus operation.

The 60D also has a slightly more rugged build than the T4i and some amount of weatherproofing seals, where the T4i basically has none.  Even more importantly, the 60D boasts additional Custom Function options, which will allow you to customize the camera and its functions to operate  exactly how you want them to: Safety Shift, Bracketing Sequence, ISO increments at 1/2 or 1/3 rather than full stops, dial direction reversal.  While some of these options may not seem important to the casual user, the heavy-duty user will find them indispensable in increasing their efficiency and deceasing their aggravation. And due to some of the additional features/ controls and stronger build, the body of the 60D is larger, feels sturdier, and is better balanced with the larger heavier lenses that a more dedicated photographer will likely be using sooner or later.

Important Firmware Update to the Canon 7D

It has been reported that Canon will soon be releasing an important firmware update for the Canon EOS 7D.  Unlike most firmware updates that correct a little bug and a typo in one of the foreign language menus, this update will add a considerable amount of features that were recently included in the Canon 5D Mark III.  These include:

Increasing the maximum burst when shooting RAW images from 15 fps to 26 RAW frames in a singlecontinuous burst.

Post-processing of RAW images in-camera, including adjusting or setting the white balance, Picture Style, High ISO Noise Reduction, Color Space (AdobeRGB/sRGB) and lens corrections (Peripheral Illumination Correction, Chromatic Aberration Correction, and distortion correction).

The file can then be saved as a JPEG for immediate output and use.

Rate your images in-camera, from 1 to 5 stars.  This feature speeds up the process of sorting and organizing images when you return to your computer and begin to work in Adobe Bridge, Apple Aperture, etc.

Set the maximum ISO that the camera will use while working in Auto ISO, between 400-6400 (inclusive).

Manually adjust the audio recording level while shooting video, as well as the volume during playback.

Resize (downsize) a JPEG image in-camera and save it as a separate image, for easy immediate output and use.

Use the new Canon GP-E2 GPS unit to geo-tag your images.

Press the Q Button during image playback to quickly access several options including Protect Image, Rotate, Rate, Resize, Highlight Alert, AF Point Display, and Image Jump.

This adds the ability to change the naming convention of file name prefixes, so that instead of an image file being named IMG_xxxx, it can now be anything you wish such as DJK1xxxx or 7D12xxxx.  The second option of this feature allows you to change just the first three letters of the name, and the third letter will reflect the file size setting, such as IMGL0025.JPG for Large JPEG files or IMGL0025.CR2 for large RAW files.

Set your time zone with the option to adjust for daylight savings time.

When reviewing an image during playback, this will allow you to scan around a magnified image quicker.

~ ~ ~

Be sure to check the Canon 7D page under Drivers and Software to see when this update has been released.

~ ~ ~

Canon 7D Experience e-book guide to the 7D – If you are looking to take full control of your Canon EOS 7D and the images you create, be sure to have a looks at my e-book guide Canon 7D Experience.  Since I publish only in e-book form, this may be the only book that will be able to quickly incorporate these major changes to the menus and features of the camera!  I will send out an update supplement to all those who have purchased the PDF version of Canon 7D Experience, and I will incorporate all the changes in an updated version of the guide, so that all new readers will obtain the latest information.

Canon EOS 7d manual guide book firmware 2 update 2.0

Introduction to the Canon Rebel T4i / 650D

Canon Rebel T4i / EOS 650D:

(After learning about the features of the new T4i here, see this other post for a comparison of the Canon Rebel T4i vs. EOS 60D)

Each year as Canon updates its high end Rebel (or xxxD) model, they borrow additional features from their more advanced (and more expensive) dSLR cameras, resulting in higher and higher quality consumer models that incorporate previous “pro” and “pro-sumer” features. The T2i then T3i added the improved 63 zone exposure metering system, 18 megapixel sensor, wireless controlled external flash, and full HD video of the pro-sumer models, plus threw in some additional menu items, custom function options, and in-camera processing features that were lacking in previous Rebels.

Canon Rebel T4i EOS 650D features compare
The Canon Rebel T4i / EOS 650D (image by the author)

Trickle-Down Features: The new Canon Rebel T4i / 650D demonstrates a significant leap in this “trickle-down” trend by taking the all-cross-type 9 point autofocus system and faster continuous shooting speed from the 60D and introducing these to the Rebel line. Although these previous omissions were seemingly necessary to differentiate the Rebels from the mid-level 50D/ 60D line, they resulted in two of the few but important “shortcomings” of the Rebels: they always had a less precise autofocus system with only one cross-type AF point (the center one), and a slower frames-per-second maximum continuous shooting speed. (Learn more about why cross-type points are so great just below.) Now with these improved features, the differences between the T4i and the mid-level 60D have been significantly reduced. (The 60D still offers additional external buttons and controls, slightly more rugged build and weatherproofing, and additional Custom Function options.)

All New LCD and Movie Focus: In addition, the T4i adds a first for a Canon dSLR: a touch-screen LCD that can be used for settings selection, image review, menu navigation, and even autofocusing or shutter release in Live View. Plus it offers a totally revamped hybrid autofocus system for Live View and Movie shooting that makes use of phase detection and contrast detect, allowing for another Canon dSLR first: continuous autofocus during Live View and Movie shooting. The phase detection aspect of the new AF system allows the camera to determine both the out-of-focus distance and the direction in which to correct, finally eliminating the slow and awkward focus hunting of previous models. Add one of the new “step motor” STM lenses such as the 18-135mm kit lens or the 40mm “pancake” and the lens will now silently focus during movie shooting, thus eliminating the autofocus motor noise previously picked up by the camera’s microphone. (Did I mention the built-in mic is now a stereo mic! And there is a stereo mic input jack.) Plus the image stabilization of the 18-135mm EF-S IS STM lens is designed to counteract camera shake caused by walking while shooting video.

Canon T4i EOS 650D Rebel T3i autofocus viewfinder 9 point cross type
Simulated view of the Canon T3i/ T4i viewfinder with 9 autofocus (AF) points. (Image by author)

All Cross-Type AF Points:  Cross-type autofocus points are more accurate and more desired because they can grab focus on a wider range of subjects. If your non-cross-type point is oriented only in the vertical direction, and you aim it at a subject displaying a strong line also also in the vertical direction (such as the side of a door frame) it will not be able to detect the line or a change in contrast, and will not be able to focus. Aim it at the strong horizontal line of the top of the door, and it will lock right on. (learn more about autofocus concepts here.)

So the fact that the T4i uses cross-type AF sensors for all 9 AF points means that the autofocus system is significantly more accurate, and you can confidently use not just the center AF point but all the outer points as well to focus on or track a subject. Not to mention that the center AF point is now also an even more accurate diagonal cross-type sensor when using an f/2.8 lens.

Faster Frame Rate: The T4i now boasts a more rapid 5 frames per second maximum continuous shooting speed, and incorporates the speedy Digic 5 processor, narrowing another major difference with the mid-level 60D. These features will allow you to capture quicker shots in a burst thus giving you the greater possibility of capturing just the right moment of action or the best facial expression or pose.

As mentioned, the Canon T4i also finally brings us great quality touch-sensitive (not old-fashioned pressure-sensitive) touch-screen capabilities on a Canon dSLR (with smear-resistance!). You can select and change your settings on the Quick Control Screen (Q Screen) simply by touching your choice, or use it to tell the camera where to focus during Live View shooting. It can also be used to navigate the menus, and during image playback you can easily swipe and zoom with iPhone-like multi-touch motions and response. Early reports indicate that the screen responds incredibly well, and the graphic layout of icons and options make it easy to use. This 1 million pixel LCD screen is fully articulating, as with the T3i and 60D.

New Live View/ Movie AF Modes: So in addition to the upgraded AF system during stills shooting, Canon has modified the Live View and Movie Shooting autofocus system, which now offers Face Detection+Tracking, FlexiZone-Multi, and FlexiZone-Single AF modes rather than the previous Quick, Live, and Face AF Modes. Quick Mode AF is still also available for Live View shooting. (With Quick Mode you use the 9 auto focus points, similar to the viewfinder AF Points, as displayed on the LCD Monitor. But since the camera is using the autofocus sensor to focus, it momentarily interrupts the Live View on the LCD Monitor when it flips the mirror back down to access the AF sensor.)

All of these features contribute to the T4i / 650D being quite an amazing consumer level camera. In most ways it is a higher-quality, more capable camera that the pro-sumer 50D of just a few years ago, and it will definitely fulfill the needs and expectations of most any enthusiast shooter. The only reasons one would need to step up to the 60D would be if you need more direct access to controls, buttons, and settings on the body of the camera in order to change and adjust settings on the fly, if you needed a slightly more rugged and dust/water-proof body, and wanted greater ability to customize the controls and functions of the camera with its additional Custom Functions.

Borrowing from the 5D MkIII:  The specs also note that due to the faster Digic 5 processor, the T4i has Lens Aberration Correction and Chromatic Aberration Correction features as first seen on the 5D3, as well as a new Ambient Light Correction.

Canon Rebel T4i EOS 650D mode dial
Note the additional Mode Dial options and Power Switch change (Movie Shooting Mode) to the Canon T4i (image courtesy of Canon USA)

Some Extras: And in addition to the standard Creative Zone shooting modes (Av, Tv, P, M) and the Basic Zone modes (Flash Off, Creative Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close-Up, Sports, Night Portrait) the T4i eliminates the Automatic Depth of Field mode on the dial and adds Night shooting without a tripod and HDR backlight compensation. Movie Shooting mode is removed from the Shooting Mode dial and is added to the On-Off switch. The T4i includes the Auto+ Shooting Mode (Scene Intelligent Auto) introduced on the T3i and even used on the 5D Mark III, where the camera analyzes the specific scene in order to automatically determine the best and most appropriate exposure, white balance, Picture Style, focus, and other settings.

The T4i shares the same battery (the LP-E8) and the same battery grip (the BG-E8) as the T3i and T2i. The fun filter (Creative Filters) effects introduced in the previous models (including Grainy Black and White, Soft Focus, Fish-eye Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Miniature Effect) are all still available, plus a couple new ones such as Water Painting and Art Bold.

Order your T4i from Amazon or B and H Photo today:

(If you plan to purchase the T4i, or any photo equipment or books etc., I encourage you to do so through these referral links. While your price will be the same, they will give me a little something for the referral, which helps to support my blog and my work – thanks!  I appreciate your support!)

Canon T4i from Amazon – body only, 18-55mm kit, or new 18-135mm STM kit

Canon T4i from B&H Photo – body only, 18-55mm kit, or new 18-135mm STM kit

Remember to check out this other post for a comparison of the Canon Rebel T4i vs. EOS 60D.

For a full list of Rebel T4i / EOS 650D specifications and features, have a look here:


Taking Advantage of the Canon 5D Mark III / IV Autofocus System

The autofocus systems of the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 5D Mark IV are incredibly powerful and versatile, with their 61 AF Points, various pre-set AF “Cases,” and its Custom Function settings and redesigned menus to help photographers take advantage of its features.  The AF systems are designed to better enable you to lock onto and track moving subjects, so that when you take the shot the subject is ideally in focus, even when using Continuous Shooting to capture multiple shots.

For the basics of the Canon AF system, including the AF Modes, please see this other post first: Taking Control of Your Canon Autofocus System.  This post here will then address the additional features and options of the 5D3 and 5D4 AF system.  Most of the text below is excerpted from my e-book guides Canon 5D Mark III Experience and Canon 5D Mark IV Experience, where I write extensively about the 5D3  and 5D4 autofocus systems, including the numerous and important Auto Area Selection Modes.

Please note that some of the menu numbers, names, and options may vary slightly between the two cameras.

Canon 5D Mark III mk 3 autofocus auto-focus auto focus manual guide book
Antigua, Guatemala – simulated view of Canon 5D Mark III viewfinder and AF Points

All of these settings will apply when working in AI Servo Autofocus Mode.

First you will need to set the Autofocus (AF) Menu AF2: AI Servo settings to match your priorities:

AI Servo 1st Image Priority and AI Servo 1st Image Priority:  

Setting for Release priority will prioritize shutter release, or immediately capturing the initial shot and subsequent shots at the possible expense of exact focus.  Generally when taking a photo, you are supposed to half-press the Shutter Button, allow the camera to focus, then continue the full-press of the Shutter Button to take the image.  If you simply “mash” down the Shutter Button, this setting will cause the camera to take the photo without bothering to focus first.  Sometimes when photographing sports, news, or events, capturing the “decisive moment” may take priority over exact focus.

Setting for Focus priority will prioritize focus for the first shot and subsequent shots, ensuring that the subject is in focus before the picture is taken.  So when you fully press (or hold) the Shutter Button, this setting may cause a brief, perhaps micro-seconds delay while the camera confirms focus before actually releasing the shutter.

Equal priority is a slight compromise between Release and Focus priorities.  It allows a brief (perhaps micro-seconds) pause for the camera to possibly find focus before releasing the shutter.  It does not guarantee that the image will be in focus, but merely gives it more of a chance to find focus.  It generally seems to make more sense to choose Release or Focus based on your priority.

Then choose the AF Area Selection Mode that will best enable you to keep track of your subject.  Choose the some that is most accurate yet allows for the proper amount of lee-way if you are unable to keep the subject under your selected initial point at all times.  These settings include Single Point AF, AF Point Expansion 4 or 8 surrounding points, etc.  I will not go into detail about them here, but they are fully discussed in my guide.

Then find a “Case” setting which closely matches your needs

Case 1 – Versatile multi purpose setting

Tracking sensitivity:  0
Acceleration/deceleration tracking:  0
AF point auto switching:  0

Case 2 – Continue to track subjects, ignoring possible obstacles

Tracking sensitivity:  -1
Acceleration/deceleration tracking:  0
AF point auto switching:  0

Case 3 – Instantly focus on subjects suddenly entering AF points

Tracking sensitivity:  +1
Acceleration/deceleration tracking:  1
AF point auto switching:  0

Case 4 – For subjects that accelerate or decelerate quickly

Tracking sensitivity:  0
Acceleration/deceleration tracking:  1
AF point auto switching:  0

Case 5 – For erratic subjects moving quickly in any direction

Tracking sensitivity:  0
Acceleration/deceleration tracking:  0
AF point auto switching:  1

Case 6 – For subjects that change speed and move erratically

Tracking sensitivity:  0
Acceleration/deceleration tracking:  1
AF point auto switching:  1

These are the various options of these Cases which you can tweak for your specific needs:

Tracking sensitivity – This is the speed at which the AF system will switch from the initial subject to another subject when a new subject enters the focusing field of view or passes in front of the initial subject, or if you momentarily lose the subject that you are trying to keep positioned under a selected AF point. If you wish for it to quickly lock onto a new subject that enters the area you are focusing on, or rapidly switch intentionally between subjects at various distances, set for +2. If you wish to retain focus tracking on the same subject and ignore new or obstructing subjects set for -2. If your objective is somewhere in between, set accordingly at +1, 0, or -1.

Acceleration/deceleration tracking – AI Servo Autofocus Mode works in part by predicting the potential location of a subject based on the subject’s current speed and direction. In order to make these predictions more accurate, use this setting to tell the camera if the subject is accelerating/ decelerating at a steady pace, or if it is changing its speed more erratically. For subjects that move smoothly set for 0. If the subject moves erratically and may very suddenly speed up, slow down, start, or stop set for 2. Or set for 1 if the subject’s movements are somewhere in between these other options.

AF point auto switching – When you are using Auto Selection – 61 AF Point, Zone AF, or AF Point Expansion Autofocus Area Selection Modes this setting will adjust the speed at which the AF Points change to track a moving subject as it travels across the frame. Setting 0 is for a slow, gradual speed at which the surrounding AF Points will pick up and start tracking the subject if it moves away from the initially selected AF Point. Setting 1 will somewhat rapidly switch to a different AF Point, and setting 2 will most rapidly switch to a different AF Point. So for example, if you began tracking a subject with a selected point and the subject was quickly moving between it and the surrounding eight points, setting 0 would retain focus at the initial point expecting the subject to soon return to that primary point. Setting 2 would mean the surrounding points would immediately activate, pick up the moving subject as it entered their area of focus, and be used to focus on it.

Again, there is much more to the AF System and its Autofocus Modes, Autofocus Area Selection Modes, and Menu and Custom Function settings.  Please have a look at my e-book guides Canon 5D Mark III Experience and Canon 5D Mark IV Experience to learn more!

The First Canon 5D Mark III e book user’s guide Now Available!

Canon 5D Mark III Experience is my latest Full Stop dSLR user’s guide e book, which goes beyond the manual to help you learn the features, settings, and controls of the powerful and highly customizable EOS 5D Mk III, plus most importantly how, when, and why to use the functions, settings, and controls in your photography.

Written in the clear, concise, and comprehensive style of all Full Stop guides, Canon 5D Mark III Experience will help you learn to use your Canon 5D Mk 3 quickly and competently, to consistently create the types of images you want to capture.  The e-book is available in either PDF, EPUB, or MOBI format for reading on any device.

Learn more about it, preview it, and purchase it here:

As one Canon user has said about Full Stop guides, “I don’t know how I could fully take advantage of all the features the camera has to offer without this publication! It’s well-organized, easy to understand, and succinct enough to keep your attention while still containing a wealth of information to get the most out of your camera.”

Take control of your 5D Mk III, the image taking process, and the photos you create!

Canon 5D Mark III mk 3 book ebook manual guide tutorial instruction bible how to dummies field EOS

For experienced photographers coming to the 5D Mk III from previous EOS models, this guide explains the new and advanced features to quickly get you up and running and taking advantage of these capabilities, including the new 61 Point Autofocus System and its Modes, Area Modes, Menu options and AF Case Presets. Plus it explains the new camera controls, the in-camera HDR and Multiple Exposures features, introduces the new video capabilities, and guides you through all the Menu and Custom Function items to help you set up the camera for your specific needs. This guide is also designed for Intermediate and Enthusiast dSLR Photographers who wish to take fuller advantage of the capabilities of the camera to go beyond Auto+ and P modes and shoot competently in Av, Tv, and M modes; take control of the sophisticated 61 point autofocus system; learn how, when, and why to use the controls, buttons, and features of the 5D Mk III, and much more. It covers basic dSLR camera functions and exposure concepts for those learning digital SLR photography, and explains more advanced camera controls and operation such as using the various metering modes and exposure compensation for correct exposure of every image.

Canon 5D Mark III Experience focuses on still-photography with an introduction to the movie menus and settings to get you up and running with video. Sections include:

  • Setting Up Your 5D Mk III – Explanations of all of the Custom Function settings and Menu options, with recommended settings.
  • Auto Focusing Modes and Drive Modes – Taking control of the new 61 point autofocus system will enable you to successfully capture more sharp images in still and action situations. Learn the AF Modes, AF Area Modes, and AF Configuration Presets and how and when to take advantage of them.
  • Aperture (Av), Shutter (Tv), and Manual (M) Modes – How and when to use them to create dramatic depth of field, freeze or express motion, or take total control over exposure settings.
  • Exposure Metering Modes – How they differ, how and when to use them for correct exposures in every situation.
  • Histograms, Exposure Compensation, Bracketing, and White Balance – Understanding these features for adjusting to the proper exposure in challenging lighting situations.
  • HDR Shooting mode and Multiple Exposure mode – Configure and use these new features.
  • The Image Taking Process – Descriptive tutorials.
  • Composition – Brief tips, techniques, and explanations, including the creative use of depth of field.
  • Lenses – Canon lens notations and choosing L series lenses.
  • Photography Accessories – Useful accessories for the 5D Mk III and for dSLR photography.
  • Introduction to Video Settings – Explanations of the settings and options to get you started.

This digital guide to the Canon 5D Mark III is a 195 page illustrated e-book that goes beyond the manual to explain how, when, and why to use the features, settings, and controls of the 5D Mark III to help you get the most from your camera.

Learn more about Canon 5D Mark III Experience e book manual for the EOS 5DIII, preview it, and purchase it on my Full Stop website here:


Canon 5D Mark III is Here!

Here are my first quick shots of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, during the ceremonial unboxing at Newtonville Camera, Newton Mass.  (Thanks guys!)

Canon 5D Mark III mk 3 EOS unbox unboxing package box
Images copyright by author, taken at Newtonville Camera, Newton, Mass.  Please do not use without permission.

Canon 5D Mk III mark 3 unboxing unbox box package new EOS
Images copyright by author, taken at Newtonville Camera, Newton, Mass.  Please do not use without permission.

I am in the process of working on the first and best (hopefully on both counts) e-book guide for the Canon 5D Mk III called Canon 5D Mark III Experience – The Still Photography Guide to Operation and Image Creation with the Canon EOS 5D Mk III.  You can learn more about it by clicking on the title or here:

I wrote an initial post about the 5D Mk III Specs and What They Mean for real world use, so you can begin to learn about its new and/ or improved features.  I’ve also spent a lot of time with the manual, and a little bit of time with the camera itself, and I am thoroughly impressed!  I love the new autofocus system and the new menu systems that are far better organized than ever before.  The new menus include the new AF Autofocus Menu tab and sub-menus with the pre-set autofocus Cases to make it far easier to configure your camera for your specific subject tracking needs than was previously possible with the Canon 7D menus and Custom Functions.  The side-by-side Comparative Image Review is great for comparing two images at once on the nice, wide rear LCD Monitor, or for comparing a full image with a detailed view of part of it.

Canon 5D Mark III Mk 3 111 eos detail image quality
Quick shot with the 5D MkIII, with a detail of the dew drop I noticed during post-processing.  Captured in JPEG – looks even better full size!.  Images copyright by author, taken at Newtonville Camera, Newton, Mass.  Please do not use without permission.

The feel of the body is great too, more 7D than 5D Mk II, and the sound of the shutter is much more appealing than the “ka-chunk” of the 5D Mk II.  The silent Touch Pad control for movie shooting works great, and the in-camera HDR and Multiple Exposures are fun to play with.  I will write more about the camera and its features as I get a chance.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Mk 3 unbox unboxing box package
Images copyright by author, taken at Newtonville Camera, Newton, Mass.  Please do not use without permission.  (Sorry for the copyright watermarks, but I had my previous unboxing image widely stolen by unsavory websites.)

Here are some in-camera HDR Mode and in-camera Multiple Exposure Mode experiments:

Canon 5D Mark III mk 3 111 sample image photo in camera HDR mode art embossed lowell house harvard square cambridge ma mass
Lowell House, Harvard Square, Cambridge, Mass.  Canon 5D Mark III – in-camera HDR Mode, Art Embossed

Canon 5D mark III mk 3 111 in camera hdr mode sample image art vivid
Lowell House, Harvard Square, Cambridge, Mass.  Canon 5D Mark III – in-camera HDR Mode, Art Vivid

Example images of all of the other HDR processing options can be seen here.

Canon 5D Mark III mk 3 111 multiple exposure mode test shot image sample
Neon Sign, Cambridge, Mass. – Canon 5D Mark III Multiple Exposure Mode.  Multiple-exposure control: Bright, 3 exposures

Canon 5D Mk III Specs and What They Mean

It is here!

Canon 5D Mark III pre-orders available at and at B and H Photo (my affiliate links – thanks for supporting this blog by using them!):

pre-order your Canon 5D Mk III from Amazon

pre-order your Canon 5D Mk III from B and H Photo


It is expected to be available and start shipping on March 22, 2012.


The long awaited and highly anticipated Canon EOS 5D Mark III has finally been announced!  There has been wide speculation of what the camera will include (including predictions at one time that it would be split into two camera lines for still vs. video).  It seems that the most current leaked specs were accurate, and the new 5D boasts such features as a whopping 61 point autofocus system, improved exposure metering system, fast DIGIC 5+ processor, and dual card slots for CF and SD.

I myself made some educated guesses back on August 5, 2011 as to what the camera was likely to offer.  I have included my predictions below in red, and my reactions and comments are in blue:

Canon EOS 5D Mk III specs:

  • 22.3 MP Full Frame Sensor. (26 to 28 MP Full Frame sensor.)  This is a surprise that they didn’t increase the sensor resolution very much, but as anyone who has used a 5D Mk II is aware, it already has amazing resolution and great high ISO/ low noise performance.  It appears from early test samples that this new sensor is going to show significant improvement in the high ISO/ low noise area, with perfectly acceptable, low noise, usable images all the way up to 12,800.  Yes, 12,800 ISO.
  • DIGIC 5+ Processor. (Single or Dual DIGIC 5 processors).  A nice, fast processor to keep up with the 6 fps frame rate, HD video, and all the image info coming from the high resolution sensor either in RAW or JPEGs that are being processed in-camera to include various settings such as Auto Lighting Optimization, Picture Controls, and other user-set adjustments such as the newly included Lens Aberration Correction.  This higher processing speed will also allow long continuous bursts even with the in-camera processing settings being used on JPEG images as they are being captured.
  • Full HD Movie – ISO 100-12800 H:25600.  (Full HD video at all the frame rates, perhaps with RAW video, perhaps with full time autofocus).  With two different compression formats to choose from, time codes with multiple options, and audio control plus a new headphone jack.
  • 6.0 frames per second high speed continuous shooting.  (7 frames per second high speed continuous shooting.)  Not quite as fast as I expected, but this is actually a much more useful rate for most situations.  This higher fps rate combined with the new 61 point AF system is going to allow the 5D to be used a bit more as a sports and action camera.  It does not appear the this desired feature that I hoped for is included:  Ability to customize Continuous Low and High settings so that you can choose your own rates.
  • ISO 100-25600, expandable to L: 50 H1: 51,200, H2: 102,400.  (ISO 100 to 12,800 or more, and then expandable.)  The new sensor, as mentioned, is likely to have tremendous performance in low light, high ISO situations with minimal noise, and preliminary samples and tests indicate this is indeed the case.
  • 3.2″ 1.04 million pixel Clear View II LCD screen.  Not articulating.  (3” very-high resolution LCD screen – Non-articulating?  Articulating?  Touch screen?)  A nice, high-resolution rear LCD screen, with a wider ratio to match the sensor and great for video shooting.
  • 61 point autofocus system with up to 41 cross type sensors.  (19 point (or more) autofocus system, all cross-type, with numerous configurations and customization options, as taken from the 7D.  Plus the new Autofocus menu system of the new 1D X to make configuring and taking full advantage of the AF system much easier.)  This is the biggest surprise for me.  I expected something like the19 point AF system of the Canon 7D, maybe with 20-30 AF points – but the 61 points is a shock.  While this will be awesome for tracking moving subjects and action, it is also customizable to reduce the number of choosable AF points and make it reasonable workable for “still” photography, as demonstrated in this still grabbed from a Canon video.
      Canon 5D Mk III mark III autofocus points 61 41 15 9
    Still from Canon video on the 5D Mk III

What this is showing is that if you wish to manually select a single AF point – which you should typically do in non-action-tracking situations to ensure that the camera autofocuses exactly where you want – you can limit the number of selectable AF points so that you don’t have to  manually click across dozens of points to quickly get to the one you want.  You can limit it to 9 points (as with the 5D Mk II or 60D), 15 points (similar to the 19 points of the 7D and likely the one I will most often use), just the cross-type points (which will number up to 41 depending on which lens you are using), or all 61 of them.

  • When using Center AF Point with an f/2.8 lens, the 5D Mark III is able to focus in EV -2, which according to Canon, “is the equivalent of shooting by the light of a full moon.”  This is an incredible improvement over the autofocusing abilities of the 5D Mk II, which struggles in low light.
  • 63-zone dual layer metering sensor.  (Improved 63 zone+ exposure metering system)  This is a similar metering system as in many of the current Canon cameras, such as the 7D and 60D, which has proved to be excellent as determining the proper exposure even in challenging lighting situations.  This metering system takes into account color, luminance, as well as information provided by the active AF point(s) to best determine the exposure.
  • Magnesium alloy body with improved durability, water, and dust resistance.  (Magnesium alloy body with weather sealing – already has this, not much improvement required.)  A durable, go-anywhere camera is now even more durable and resistant!

Additional features of the new 5D Mk III:

  • “Intelligent viewfinder” which means it includes the 7D type viewfinder with the LCD grid that can be turned on or off, sensitivity to light and dark to automatically illuminate the AF points when needed, if desired.
  • Silent and Low Vibration Modes.  These are likely designed to enable one to use the camera more stealthily – not just surreptitiously, but in situations such as dance and theater performances where you need the shutter and mirror to be quieter.  Low vibration is handy for optimal sharpness in certain hand-held and tripod shooting situations.
  • Dual memory card slots – CF and SD.  This is a new feature for the 5D line.  (It will likely and hopefully retain the CF card)
  • LP-E6 battery – thankfully they have retained the same battery as the 5D Mk II and 7D.  (It will likely retain the LP-E6 battery)
  • HDR Mode – This is an in-camera feature that will take and combine 3 images, either at auto-levels of exposure or user-selected EV increments.  You can then choose from various options of how you wish the camera to process the final image.  The original 3 images will also be saved for your own use.  The camera also offers an improved 7 stop EV latitude of exposures for auto bracketing, for those who wish to do more with HDR using other software and post-processing themselves.
  • Multiple Exposures – Nikon has had this feature for a while, so it is nice to see it on a Canon.

The 5D Mk III has also incorporated many of the menu and Custom Function features of the 7D, such as the ability to customize many of the buttons and controls of the camera, as well as the new, easier to use and comprehend Autofocus Menu system as the one seen in the Canon 1D X.  By putting all the AF options in one menu, it makes it considerably easier to take advantage of the powerful AF system options without having to access and understand various menus items and Custom Function options (as you do with the 7D).  There are also AF “presets” so you don’t have to remember and set the variables such as “Tracking Sensitivity” and “AF Point Auto Switching.”  The Custom Functions of the 5D Mk III have also been grouped into 3 categories now for ease of use.

There is also an image comparison feature where you can compare two images side by side on the rear LCD to see the effects of your adjustments – double chimping!

Hopefully there will be the options to customize the size of the Center-Weighted, Spot, or Partial Metering circles, and to adjust the Hi Speed and Low Speed Continuous shooting rates, and perhaps some additional WB options such as more Fluorescent option.

Built-in GPS, wireless flash, or wi-fi?  No, they all still require optional, external devices.  But we will see these in-camera features eventually.

I will soon be starting to write an e-book user guide for the Canon 5D Mk III to join my current Full Stop camera guide line-up which includes Canon 7D Experience and Your World 60D. You can check out my Full Stop bookstore website to learn more:

full stop dslr photo photography camera manual guide for dummies canon nikon

If you are interested in pre-ordering your Canon 5D Mk III, please use my referral links to the 5D Mk III on or B&H Photo. Using these links will help support my blog and my work.  Thanks, I appreciate your support!

If you are in the UK, please click here for the UK Amazon referral link.

And if you are in Canada, please click here to use my Canada referral link.

BandH Photo

Direct Link to Canon 5D Mark III pre-order at B and H Photo.

These are retailers that I have purchased equipment from (excluding Amazon UK/ CA), and I recommend them based on my good experiences, their extensive selection, competitive prices, great customer service and responsiveness, and fair return policies.

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II vs. 24-70mm f/2.8L

Canon has just announced an updated, improved version of it’s high-quality EF 24-70mm f/2.8L standard zoom, called the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM.  (To understand what all the notions mean, please see my Canon Lens Notations post.)

Some would call this the full frame standard zoom, though as an EF lens it can also be used on non-full-frame cameras such as the 7D, 60D, and T3i/600D.  The difference is that on non-full-frame bodies, it will act more like a 38-112mm focal length lens due to the crop factor of the smaller sensors.

Canon 24-700mm f/2.8L II lens new updated improved
New Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM – (image from Canon USA)

Many, including myself, had hoped for – or even expected – this update to incorporate image stabilization, but this was not included.  The image stabilization would have made it an even tougher decision between the new 24-70 f/2.8L II and the 24-105mm f/4L IS, which offers a similar focal length plus image stabilization, but has a minimum aperture of “only” f/4.0.

Canon states that the lens has been completely redesigned, and in addition to still offering great weather sealing like the original, the same .38m / 1.25 ft. minimum focus distance, and improved durability, it also now “features completely redesigned optics to provide outstanding clarity, image quality and durability. A compact design makes it ideal for carrying on every shoot, and a range of optical enhancements provide improved performance – capturing greater detail across the frame while reducing distortion throughout the entire zoom range, particularly at the maximum 70mm focal length.

With a redesigned optical system that includes two Ultra-low Dispersion (UD) and one Super UD aspheric elements to minimise chromatic aberration and colour blurring, the lens delivers consistently sharp, high-contrast images. Each lens element also features Canon’s optimised Super Spectra coatings to reduce ghosting and flare and ensure excellent colour balance. Additionally, a fluorine coating minimises the amount of dust, dirt and fingerprints that adhere to the front and rear of the lens, helping to maintain superior image quality.”

The original 24-70mm f/2.8L lens included “the use of two different types of aspherical lens elements and a UD (Ultra-low Dispersion) glass element for obtaining sharper image quality.”  (quotes from Canon press releases)

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L original lens
Original Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – (image from Cburnett, Wikipedia, GFDL license)
PLEASE do not put a cheap Tiffen filter on an L lens – use a high quality multi-coated B+W MRC filter

There are some significant differences in the design of the new lens vs. the older version.  They both have ultrasonic motors for autofocus and full time autofocus (you can override the AF by turning the focus ring without switching to manual focus).  And they both use an external zoom mechanism, meaning the lens extends as you zoom in and out.  However, the original lens extended as you zoomed toward the 24mm wide end, which is “backwards” from a typical zoom lens.  The new version acts as a more typical zoom, extending as you zoom towards the 70mm telephoto end.  They both include a lens hood, though the older hood attached to the main section of the lens and the lens extends inside of the hood, thus working more effectively as a hood throughout the entire focal range from wide to tele.  The hood of the new version attaches to the extending section, and thus is a smaller tulip style lens hood typical of most lenses.  Perhaps the new coatings and lens elements make up for any internal reflections that might have resulted from this less effective hood.  The new lens offers a lock switch for when it is retracted, though L lenses typically zoom so smoothly and tightly that they don’t tend to creep.

The sizes of the lenses are similar, though the new version is slightly shorter and lighter but wider.  Due to the changed design, the new lens boasts a larger 82mm filter size.  And the prices at this point are dramatically different.  As far as the image quality, it is certain that the new 24-70mm is going to demonstrate dramatically improved image quality, especially when paired with the new Canon 5D MkIII (Canon 5D X?) when it comes out, as it is rumored to boast 30+ MP, which is going to require excellent glass to fully take advantage of.

24-70mm f/2.8L
3.3″ x 4.9″
2.1 lbs (950 g)
77mm filter size
$1,269 at B&H
$1,299 on Amazon

24-70mm f/2.8L II
3.5″ x 4.4″
1.77 lbs (805 g)
82mm filter size
$2,299 at B&H available for pre-order, expected in mid-April

Taking Control of, and Possibly Understanding Exposure

Whenever a new photographer wishes to learn about exposure, shooting modes, and working in Manual or Aperture Priority Mode, most photographers recommend the Bryan Peterson book Understanding Exposure.  It has become the go to guide because it offers explanations that no other book seems to cover as well or as thoroughly.  However, many people aren’t the biggest fans of it and wish there was another guide with a slightly different approach – perhaps an easier, less confusing way to present some of the material.

Understanding Exposure has been updated for the current digital era, but it may be better to toss many of the old notions and methods that have been carried over from film, start from scratch, and approach the subject in a practical manner that applies fully to digital SLR cameras – cameras with histograms and instant feedback of the image and the exposure settings via the rear LCD screen, not to mention the ability to head straight to your computer and study and analyze your results and EXIF data.

While I contemplate writing an exposure book for the digital era, I will begin with a quick-start tutorial to exposure and metering with a dSLR:

First, don’t start with M mode yet. Start working in Av or A – aperture priority mode.

Set the camera on Av / A (aperture priority). Go into the menus and turn off Auto Lighting Optimizer and Highlight Tone Priority on a Canon and Active D-Lighting on a Nikon.

Set the ISO to an appropriate setting based on the lighting of the scene.
outdoors in sun: 100
less sun or shade: 200-400
more shade or darker: 800
indoors: 1600-3200

Set your aperture setting to whatever aperture setting you desire based on how much depth of field you want. Want a lot of depth of field with everything in focus from near to far? Set for f/16 or f/22. Want very shallow depth of field with just the subject in focus and cool background blurring? Set for f/2.8, f/4, or f/5.6.

Aim your camera at your subject, press the shutter button halfway, and see what Shutter Speed the camera selected. Is it slower than 1/125? (such as 1/80, 1/30) Then increase your ISO setting to a higher number. If you can’t or don’t want to increase ISO, use a wider aperture setting (a “lower” F number like f/4, f/5.6).

Is your shutter speed now about 1/125 or faster? (for still subjects – use perhaps 1/500 or 1/1000 for moving subjects). Take the photo.

Now, if the exposure is not coming out how you want, use exposure compensation to adjust it and then re-take the photo.  Adjust it to the positive side to make the exposure lighter, and to the negative side to make the exposure darker.

Sound easy? It is! But of course, it all gets more complicated from here. For example, how did the camera determine what the proper exposure was? You can learn more about that, and how to better control the camera’s determination of exposure with Exploring Metering Modes.

And then now that you have the basics, and can move on to learning more about controling your autofocus system, locking focus and exposure – independently, how focal length and distance affect depth of field, composition, white balance, etc, etc!

You can learn all about these settings and functions in my e-book camera guides for Nikon and Canon dSLRs, such as Nikon D5100 Experience and Canon T3i Experience.  Click the image below to see all the available guides and to learn more:

full stop dslr photo photography camera manual guide for dummies canon nikon


Canon at CES 2012

You can have a look at the Canon brochure from CES 2012, the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The brochure highlights their new cameras, including the Powershot G1 X, where you can learn about some of its exciting new features such as Intelligent Image Stabilization, which will determine if the camera is taking a hand-held still shot, a macro shot, panning, a movie, on a tripod, etc. Also, the Face ID feature can be used to identify specific faces, which are then given priority when taking the shot.

Have a look at the Canon 2012 CES brochure here (cut and paste the link below to view it):

Canon Powershot G1 X vs. G12

The latest in the Canon Powershot G series, the Powershot G1 X was recently announced, and should be available in February 2012. I wrote a bit about what new features it offers compared to the G12, namely a much larger CMOS sensor and a different lens to go with it. The G1 X is not a replacement to the G12, but rather is a new, even higher-end compact with manual controls, designed for dSLR users who want a very high quality point and shoot for various situations, as well as for dedicated enthusiasts who want the quality and manual control of a dSLR but don’t want the size, weight, and bulk of a dSLR body and lenses. The G1 X should prove to be a very popular camera for many demanding photographers for both everyday and travel use.

Canon g1 x g1x gx1 gx 1 compact asp-c large sensor high end g12
image courtesy of Canon USA

If you are trying to decide between the new G1 X and the older G12, the most important consideration (besides the price difference) is the sensor/ lens/ Digic V processor combo. While not quite as large as the ASP-C sensor of a dSLR like the T3i or 60D, the 18.7mm x 14mm, 14 megapixel sensor of the G1X is six times larger than that of the G12, and thus promises to offer not only higher image quality, but also much improved low light performance. Its f/2.8 maximum aperture at the wide end coupled with the larger sensor will also allow a larger degree of background blurring for portraits, etc. While you shouldn’t expect the degree of out of focus areas (bokeh) as a dSLR due to the minimum aperture becoming f/5.8 at the telephoto end, it will be somewhat improved over what the G12 or other compacts can offer. The 4X zoom lens of the G1 X also does not have quite the reach of the 5X zoom lens of the G12.

Other possibly important differences between the two are the camera size and weight and the battery life. While the G1 X is larger and heavier than the G12, it uses a smaller batter with a shorter shot life (see below for details). The G1 X also offers a high speed burst of continuous shooting, 4.5 fps for up to 6 shots at full quality, or 1.9fps for unlimited continuous shots.

The controls of both cameras are very similar, with some minor tweaks made to the G1 X. The G series is prized by demanding photographers because it offers quick and easy access to many manual controls, similar to a dSLR, as well as a viewfinder. Both cameras have a mode dial to quickly change shooting modes, an exposure compensation dial for quick EC adjustments, and button access to autofocus modes, metering modes, flash, as well as exposure lock. The G1 X looses the ISO dial of the G12, but places it on the rear control dial for relatively easy access. The G1 X however adds a movie record button for rapid start of movie recording in any shooting mode. As a result of these changes, the AE-L button is moved lower, and the self-timer and manual focus functions no longer have dedicated buttons, but can be accessed in the menus.

Below is a further comparison of some of the key specs of each camera:

Canon G1 X

sensor: 14 MP, 18.7mm x 14mm sensor
lens: 28-112mm equivalent, 4X zoom lens
aperture: f/2.8-5.8 maximum aperture
rear LCD: 3″ articulating rear LCD with 920,000 dots
size: 116.7 x 80.5 x 64.7mm
weight: 534 g
processor: Digic V
RAW image file format: yes, 14 bit RAW
ISO: 100-12,800
exposure compensation: +/- 3 EV at 1/3 stops
continuous shooting: 4.5 fps for 6 shots
metering: Evaluative, Center-weighted, Spot
flash: internal pop-up plus hot-shoe for EX Speedlites
battery: NB 10L – 250 shots
video: up to 1920 x 1080 @ 24fps full HD
price: $799

Canon G12

sensor: 10 MP, 7.44 x 5.58mm sensor
lens: 28-140mm equivalent, 5X zoom lens
aperture: f/2.8-4.5 maximum aperture
rear LCD: 2.8″ articulating rear LCD with 460,000 dots
size: 112 x 76 x 48mm
weight: 351 g
processor: Digic IV
RAW image file format: yes
ISO: 80-3,200
exposure compensation: +/- 2 EV at 1/3 stops
continuous shooting: 2 fps
metering: Evaluative, Center-weighted, Spot
flash: internal plus hot-shoe for EX Speedlites
battery: NB 7L – 370 shots
video: up to 1280 x 720 @ 24fps HD
price: $395

So as you can see, the cameras are quite similar in many ways, with the exception of the sensor, lens, and processor, which is going to make a very large difference in terms of improved image quality, higher dynamic range, better low light performance, reduced noise at high ISO settings, longer flash reach, larger image size allowing for more aggressive cropping, and will allow the ability to achieve more dramatic depth of field. According to Canon:

The powerful DIGIC 5 processor in the PowerShot G1 X is able to process six times the amount of information compared to the DIGIC 4 processor used in the PowerShot G12 compact. With this vastly increased processing power advanced noise reduction is possible to provide even better image quality than the DIGIC 4-powered HS System.

The DIGIC 5 processor uses approximately four times as much information as before to resolve one pixel, with the aforementioned six times faster processing speed. For the total performance of noise and image clarity this has an effect of two stops at high ISOs compared to the PowerShot G12 compact at ISO 3200, and three stops at lower ISO.

The 14 bit RAW allows for those who shoot in RAW file format for later post-processing to capture images with more dynamic range, better noise reduction, and more shadow detail.

Most of the other features such as the viewfinder, scene modes, autofocusing systems, creative filters, movie modes, and white balance options are nearly identical on both models. The G1 X also adds improved, 4-stop image stabilization, a built in 3-stop neutral density (ND) filter, and an intelligent face detection system which will give focus and exposure priority to faces it recognizes. It also offers multi-area white balance correction so that different light sources are equally neutralized or balanced – such as the flash lit subject with the fluorescent lit background.

So, how do you decide between the two? Who is the G1 X for vs. the G12? Well, if the price difference doesn’t make up your mind for you, the G12 is for those who want a very high quality point, rugged point and shoot with manual controls and great image quality. If you are going to be viewing and sharing your photos online or on a computer screen primarily, the images from the G12 should suffice. You can still do post-processing and make small or medium size prints for the special images. It is great for everyday use and for travel.

But if you need to take it to the next level – if you need or want near dSLR quality images for more invasive post-processing, larger prints, cropping, or even publication, you will want the G1 X. If you want the ability to more easily create background blurring, and the occasional high speed burst for action shots, you will want the new model. If you want to get as close to a dSLR without the size, weight, and lenses, the G1 X (or Sony NEX-7) is the answer.

Pre-order your G1 X from B and H Photo here! – $799 – expected Feb. 2012?

Pre-order your G1 X from Amazon – $799 – expected March 31, 2010

See the Powershot G12 on Amazon – $395

The official Canon press release for the G1 X can be read on their site here.

Canon G1 X – the Compact Approaching Near-dSLR Capabilities

Canon has announced their latest model in the G series of high-end compacts, the PowerShot G1 X, and its specifications indicate that it may finally have brought the G series to the place where most have always wished it would be.  While the G12 and previous models worked well as the compact camera with manual control, for dSLR users who didn’t want to carry their dSLR with them, they never quite fully lived up to the task because the sensor and lens sizes simply did not allow for dramatic shallow depth of field and good background blurring in many situations.

Canon g1 x g1x gx1 gx 1 compact asp-c large sensor high end g12
image courtesy of Canon USA

The G1 X takes the model-line a giant step forward in fulfilling this promise, as it includes a larger 18.7mm x 14mm sensor – not quite as big as an ASP-C sensor in a dSLR, but six times larger than the G12 sensor and larger than the sensors of any of its competitors including the Four-Thirds cameras and the Nikon 1.  Combined with its 4x zoom (28-112mm) lens, f/2.8 to f/16 aperture range, low light capabilities, Digic 5 processor allowing for 1.9fps or up to 4.5fps for 6 shots in high speed mode at full image quality, 14-bit RAW file support, and full HD video, this should prove to be a very popular compact for pros and dedicated enthusiasts, as well as to ideal primary camera for enthusiasts and travelers who simply don’t want or need the size, weight, and bulk of a dSLR system.  High end digital cameras are rapidly making the move back to smaller and lighter bodies, and the G1 X is going to serve to push this trend along.

The body of the the G1 X is slightly larger than the G12, sitting taller and wider with a larger lens protrusion, but is none-the-less still incredibly compact for the size of the sensor and all else it offers inside its metal body.  The camera boasts 14 megapixels, the HS system for excellent low light performance, fast response due to the Digic 5, a 9 point autofocus system plus child-priority face detection, +/-3 EV exposure compensation, built-in neutral density filters, an articulating screen, and even an HDR mode.

However, despite all that it offers, the G1 X is not capable of completely replacing a dSLR.  Its shutter response time is likely not instantaneous, its maximum aperture at the telephoto end is only f/5.8 thus limiting the amount of background blurring, its high speed shooting 4.5fps at full image quality is only for 6 shots before the camera needs to stop and process, and its built-in lens does not give the range, focusing speed, and zoom speed and control of an interchangeable lens.  But for those willing to work with these compromises, the image quality will likely meet or exceed your needs.

I would like to go into more detail about this promising model, and compare it to the G12, as soon as I learn more about it and have a chance to study the differences.  But as it looks now, this just might be the G model that starts to approach the depth of field flexibility and the increased performance that many have longed for with the already-well-regarded high-end compact G series.

Pre-order yours from B and H Photo here! – $799 – expected Feb. 2012

The official Canon press release for the G1 X can be read on their site here.







How to Use Your New dSLR

I know many people happily unwrapped a new dSLR this holiday.  And now after playing with it for a bit, you may be discovering that there is a bit of a learning curve to learning all the features and functions of your camera.  So if your are eager to learn how to use your new T3i, D5100, 60D, D7000, or whichever Canon or Nikon dSLR you received, be sure to have a look around my blog at the various articles discussing how to use your autofocus system, metering system, and other functions, plus photography techniques once you have started to get a hang of the controls.

Have a look at the front page of this blog to see these different categories and find the articles about Canons, Nikons, Photography Techniques, Lenses, Accessories, Books, and more.

And to quickly learn the ins and outs of your camera, also be sure to have a look at my e-book camera guides, which will not only teach you the functions and controls of your dSLR, but when and why to use them.

full stop dslr photo photography camera manual guide for dummies canon nikon

Happy shooting, and let me know if you have any questions.