Canon 400mm f/2.8l ii is usm and Canon 600MM F/4L II IS USM

Wow these are some lenses, thanks first of all to, they are just awesome. I needed these lense for shooting a sailing regatta that was probably 1km away, it’s tough to get shots like this, but at least the boats are moving slow, so I could use ultra high resolution bodies (the Canon 5DS R and the Sony A7R II).

The really tough choice was picking lenses, I have always loved the Nikon 200 F/2 as it was just so clear and wonderful two years ago and for some reason I didn’t have very fond memories of the Canon 300mm F/2.8 II. The main reason is that you lose quite a bit of image quality with a 2x teleconverter I think,

This time I wanted to see if the Metabones E to EF adapter was a choice, so off to Canon I went. Wow what an experience. First of all, the Canon 5DS R really worked well with the 600MM F/4L and 1.4x extender mainly because conditions were super bright and of course this camera is very fast. I was able to shoot at ISO 200 and even wide open at f/5.6 this lense was tack sharp. That’s quite a bit of reach at 840MM (with full frame 35mm, that’s a 24x zoom). This is quite a lense as DxO says it achieves 37MP with the 50MP sensor on the 5DS R.

And with so many pixels, even with a crop by another 2-4x (so that’s an effective 48-96x zoom), the photos were very usable. The autofocus by the way worked very well, with AI Servo on the Canon or the equivalent on the Sony, object tracking worked really well.

Finally, we also used the Metabones with a Sony A7R II, this was a little more difficult because the Metabones seemed to have trouble connecting problem to the  A7R. In fact, lens rentals doesn’t recommend it for professional shoots and I can see why. When it was working properly though (required some jiggle of the the adapter and rebooting the adapter by removing the camera), the image quality was excellent. Theoretically the 42MP vs 50MP should have made a difference but I couldn’t see it.

One disappointment was that I never quite got the video mode of the A7R to work, it is supposed to automatically stabilize through the metabones, but in looking at the video, I couldn’t quite get it to work.

Finally, if you are going to use lenses like this, the Wembley Sidewinder is a must have, it converts your tripod and makes it easy to move a big heavy lenses set like this. And make sure you bring a beefy tripod and put a weight on it, with this kind of zoom, even someone walking causes vibration. I had both image stabilization turned on and also shot at 1/800 and this seemed to work.

Update on cool biking gear

OK, I’ve been updated to a new bike and here are some notes:

  1. The recommendations on tires have changed quite a bit. I used to ride 23mm at 110 psi, but now folks are recommending a wider 25mm at 90 psi, apparently it’s about the same footprint on the road and much more stable.
  2. Heart rate monitors. Wow these have really improved, while you can still wear a chest strap (they have essentially infinite battery life), the new Scosche Rhythem+ is just $80 and has a simple rechargeable battery that lasts 8 hours. Way more comfortable to have an arm band than something that is around your chest.
  3. Power meters. DC Rainmaker was right, the Powertap P1 pedals are expensive, but boy are they easy to setup and they just use a standard lithium AAA battery. Setup with the old Garmin 800 was  a snap.
  4. Shimano automatic shifting, well the guys in the peloton don’t need it, but with a new battery and a firmware update. You do need a Windows machine to do this, now you just hit the right paddles to go up and down the gears and the front derailleur shifts automatically for you. Nice and no more cross chaining.
  5. Be careful how you leave your bike, if you accidentally leave the shift lever against a wall, it will drain the battery of the Di2. You are warned 🙂
  6. While most folks still use water bottles, I find the trusty dusty Camelbak Mule still more convenient and probably more aero, plus your bike looks way cooler without cages.

Things left to do:

  1. Shimano D-fly Di2 transmitter. The latest firmware let’s you install wireless transmitter that speaks ANT+ and Bluetooth, so the shifting system can tell your bike computer what gear you are in. It’s a little complicated to get the parts, but Shimano has a good list. The EW-WU101 is the variant that connects at the rear derailleur, you take it from basically hook it inline. This works because the two connectors are on the same side. The EW-WU111 is for internal mounting inside the frame so the connectors are opposite each other. You also need a newer battery the DN101 because it has the firmware to manage this and it needs more memory.
  2. New maps for the Garmin 800, turns out you don’t have to pay for maps, you can use Open Street Maps. It’s a little clumsy, but DC Rainmaker describes it pretty well, someone is running a server which scrapes and reformats Open Street Maps, go to and select bicycle map, then choose the segments you want. You will get an email later with the location of a huge file. You then copy the DMG into your SD card in the Garmin directory and you should have it on your Garmin 800 at least.
  3. Cycle computer. You do need a new Garmin like the 810 to actually see the data however. Not surprising since the Garmin 800 is eight years old, but it does work pretty well.

LG C6 55 inch would make an awesome PC monitor the LG 55 C6 is an incredible OLED screen. At $1400 it’s expensive but nearly 40% off its initial price. It’s kind of the perfect gamers screen. Talk about immersive! Main issue is getting one that has a defect. Amazon is awesome because they will just pick one up and give u a new one. Or Best Buy because they have a local store With a good policy but it’s tempting to get it drone Beach!

Lensrentals review of filters everything you need to know about filters to protect your lense front end. I normally get the B+W MRC Clear Transparent which is a nice $50 choice.

It maybe shouldn’t be surprising but if you want to protect your front end, you need at least a $50 piece of glass and not an el cheapo $10 filter

Canon paper decoder ring and Alford Galerie Smooth Pearl on Canon iP100 with GL1

Seems like every year (?!) when I do print, I have to remember how to get the profiles right. With an old Canon iP100, the question is how to get a nice color, so here is the mapping:

The Paper codes

They have a two digit paper code system from lowest to highest quality

  • MP. Matte Paper
  • GL. Photo Paper Glossy (I and II)
  • SP. Photo Paper Plus Glossy
  • SG. Photo Paper Semi Glossy
  • PR. Photo Paper Pro (I and II)
  • PT. Photo Paper Pro Platinum

Then there is the quality code which is lower the better

So by elimination, there is no correct ICC profile for this combination, so trying this first with third party ink. This is a bad idea because without the chip, it always reports full ink, so even if all the ink is dry it doesn’t work. Main note, use standard Canon ink.

Now figuring out which color profile works but the big issue is having a good printer cartridge. We had errors with a new Canon color cartridge and the cheap OEM knockoffs do not report their ink levels correctly so the first time

  • The PR1 on Mac Photos and DxO come out very light and red
  • Photoshop with Galerie for Canon Pro9000 comes out super saturated like a Fujifilm or Kodachrome, but is much better. The Galerie profiles are carefully coded, so you know how to set the many Photoshop parameters
  • The PR1 for iP100 comes out very dark and saturated but this is on the unreliable third party ink.
  • The GL2 also has a red cast on the Galerie paper with Perceptual and Relative colorimetric.
  • SP2/SG2 looks the closest with perceptual and black point compensation but it still very read

So we tried this with both HP Glossy and also Alford Galerie and found that with Photoshop that GL1 did work

  • GL3 was what was supposed to work from our last use five years (?!) ago and this seems OK, actually about the same as GL1
  • PR1 also seems to work

No recourse even from Tim Cook, so Looking hard at HP, Dell and Lenovo

Well the fragility of MacBook Pros has me looking for new laptop recommendations. I by the way did tweet to #tim_cook and apples executive support tram responded awesomely fast. 

The main news is that there is no recourse from what level 2 tech support says through that channel. Warranty decisions are made at the descretion of the local Apple Store manager is nothing that they are allowed to do. Net, net, better make sure to send Christmas cookies to your local Apple Store manager early and often if you’ve got a bunch of these. And make sure your purchases are aggregated in an Apple business account etc. 

In addition, short battery life and shallow keyboard, what’s a person to do who wants. Here’s a quick sweep of current thin and light notebooks that can work for a software developer. I used the same criteria as last years MacBook Pro 2015 with one exception (USB C). PC Magazine had a list. 

  1. Reliable and some sort of decent three year service plan (and with reasonable handling of accidental damage more along the lines of iPhone Applecare not MacBook policies)
  2. 4.5 pounds and not a gigantic brick of an adapter so overall
  3. Thin at 7-12mm or so not these big thick gaming notebooks that are 25mm
  4. At least 2.5k screen at 15 inches as 13 inches is too small for multiple windows imho. IPS bright screen. 
  5. 512TB SSD NVMe as disk is the big issue
  6. 16GB ram (ok 33GB is better but no current thin and light has it due to intel availability problems)
  7. At least 6-7 real hours of battery life (hopefully without the careful babying the mbp2016 needs)
  8. USB C charger. I admit it I’m kind of addicted to the idea that you don’t have to buy a proprietary charger (the one good idea from mbp16)
  9. High speed offboard. At least 10Gbps USB 3.1 supported ASP for fast attached SSD access and ideally future proofed to Thunderbolt 3  40Gbps

So here is what I’ve found. I think Mike will be happy. As an aside I think all these vendors should emulate what Mike Sievert et al at T-Mobile are doing. Have a friends and family discount and executive support team to go after influencers and flip them. Super impressive what they’ve done if yin watch Facebook et al. 

HP Laptops

Ok they definitely have reliability issues and you need a massive decoder ring. 

First you need to understand their fairly random (at least to me brand names). This is way more complicated than MacBook vs MacBook Pro. The net is

  1. Spectre. Their premium line. Most expensive. Latest technology. I guess you could call them MacBook Pro killers. 
  2. Envy. Their MacBook killer so thin and light with dedicated GPUs. 
  3. Elitebook. For big companies. They have biometrics etc. 
  4. ProBook. Small business and cheaper
  5. ZBook. For creatives. And no I don’t really understand what that means. But they are. If and heavy at 5.5 pounds plus with Nvidia GPUs 
  6. Notebook. Budget consumer machines. 
  7. Pavillion. Cheap spectres (wait I thought that is what an Envy is)
  8. Omen. Big loud and low battery life. In other words perfect for gamers. 
  9. Chromebooks. Even Cheap laptops running chrome. The so called student market. 
  10. Stream. Cheap laptops running windows. 

The model number of it has it has this decoder. If it says 440 this means

  1. The hundred digit is the series the higher the better so a 640 is better than a 440
  2. The tens digit is the size of the screen. So 14 is 4, 15 is 5
  3. Last digit is 0 for Intel and 5 for AMD

Then there is a modifier which is mainly features a developer doesn’t use too much:

  1. x360 means convertible notebook. The screen flips all the way around so u can use way. Not super useful for devs
  2. x2. A detachable screen like a SurfacePro and a iPad Pro competitor usually 
  3. t means a touch screen notebook

Finally to distinguish model Years the can be a G followed by the generation. Higher is better so a G5 means fifth generation. 

And really finally you want to look at their Applecare equivalents. Given the many reliability issues reported having a good warranty is crucial. They have 2 and 3 year warranties. And also have a accident policy. The $200 accident policy includes a feature. If you don’t use it you get your money back. How cool so that?

Best choices instead of MacBook Pro 15

Whew with that is a lot to know so here are the machines that meet the spec going ordered by newest units. So here are MacBook Pro competitors:

Best choices for MacBook Pro 13

The criteria here is a 13 inch screen with integrated graphics. Best for browsing and general web use

  • Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1. This is a 14″ laptop with integrated graphics and 22 hour battery life?!
  • Razer Blade (early 2017). Also 14″ but with gtx 1050. $2400 with 4K display. .7 x 25.6mm or 19mm. TB3 and USB 3.0. 10 hour battery. This is actually a great choice but has reliability and support problems. 

    MacBook Pros 2016 are super fragile screens beware of buying them

    Ok, I’ve had three cases now of MacBook Pro 2016 which have screen cracks from things that is should not. The repair cost is $700 and they will not cover it under AppleCare

    1. Closing your laptop on an Ethernet adapter. This will totally crack your screen and this is called accidental damage.
    2. Closing your laptop on your Apple ear plugs and this will crack it
    3. Dropping a laptop even with a case will cause a crack, even if there is a screen crack they will not fix anything like USB C or any motherboard problem because they claim it is damaged.

    Net, net, if you are committed to Apple you should also know that your repair bill are going to be super high. Recommendations are:

    1. Get a case for the thing.
    2. If anything breaks on your MacBook run to the store and get it fixed before the screen cracks.

    Net, net, with the battery life reduction and this warranty issue and the super high prices, I can’t recommend buying MacBook Pro’s anymore. The older machines are pretty good by the way and just as fast:

    1. so a good MacBook Pro 2015 and they are way more durable.
    2. A cheaper windows machine even if they break, they are half the price. Dell makes a decent one as does ASUS.

    Yakima jetstream vs whispbar

    Man I’m sure sad Yakima is discontinuing the whispbar. More expensive and not as strong but they really are totally silent and have essentially no impact on gas mileage. 

    We have whispbar on a 2013 Honda Fit and it is terrific. We have the new jetstream on a 2016 fit and it’s super noisy. May try a fairing. 

    Net net get the whispbar if u can and for newer cars I’ll have to try a fairing. 

    Net, net if your loads are light and you don’t want a lot of noise go with whispbar. They say its being discontinued but the site is still up so get it while the getting is good. 

    Nice thing is that the t connector thingy works on both so you can have a nice solid connection to your bike rack. 

    Programming your Di2 shifters and getting cog information

    A zillion years ago, the old Campy computer told you what gear you were in. How much work is it to get back to that.

    Also Shimano is introducing synchronized shifting. That is, one shift and the bike computer decides when to move the front derailleur. Pretty handy. But getting it on an existing bike requite some potential hardware upgrades and firmware updates.

    The confusing thing is that the electronics are actually in the battery unit, so you need to get so you can use the latest e-tube software:

    1. The newest battery unit.
    2. The newest junction box normally at the stem called the EW-90A, this thing has a port on the side of the BCR2 and three wires coming out, one to each shifter and then one to the battery. It also has a button at the bottom that is used to select the shift mode,
    3. The newest USB connection to your Windows machine called the Di2 BCR2 which connects into the junction box that is normally at the stem of your bike
    4. The newest wireless connection called D-fly named EW-WU101. This supports both Bluetooth and Ant output to compatible head units like the Garmin 820 (but not the 800) and the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt. The big advantage here is that you get a read out of what cog you are on and how much battery you have left. Also, it let’s you program the thing with the Shimano iOS and Android applications rather than just Windows. This box is not quite available but should be in June 2017.

    This gives you two big features:

    1. Syncho-Shift. This is the smart shifting mode, you change it by pushing on the button underneath your junction box twice. This takes you through manual mode where the red and light are solid, the semi-automatic which is two blinks and full automatic which is three blinks. If you have a compatible head unit, you can program it from there or from the e-tube application on your phone.