Canon lense quality

“SLR Gear”:http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showcat.php/cat/11 has a good analytic review set for lenses. Canon is a focus here, but they have Nikon too of course. Unlike many reviews, this one is quite quantitative with good recommendations for what aperture and focal length to use for maximum sharpness:

“Canon EF 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L IS USM”:http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/77/cat/11. Image quality 8.61/10. Best results at 100-135mm at F/8 or 300mm and F/11. Corner softness at 200mm, but keep it at F/8-F/11 and you won’t see blurring. Undetectable vignette on sub-frame sensor and some on full frame when you are at F/5.6 and below. Very low distortion less than -0.2% pincushioning at most.

“Canon EF 24-105mm F/4L IS USM”:http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/145/cat/11. On my 350D, this is too slow, but on a new 5D Mark II, it will be great because it is slower than F/2.8 for available light, but the 5D is so sensitive, it doesn’t matter. 8.97/10 image quality. F/4 to F/8 the lense is very sharp at 24mm. At 105mm, it is slightly soft and best at F/5.6 (either end is soft again). Vignetting is virtually nonexistant. Moderate barrel distoration at 24mm (0.6%) and slight pincushion at 50mm+ 0.2%. Basically a superb lense and expensive too at $1,100!

“Canon EF 70-200mm F/2.8L IS USM”:http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/57/cat/11 is amazing at 9.47/10 image quality but costs $1660. F/4 and above has no blur at all and it is very sligth at 135mm and F/2.8. At F/16, diffraction limiting causes a tiny blur only. Chromatic abberation is low and then become medium toward 200mm. Essentially zero distortion at 0.2-0.16%

For a full frame geek, this is a great set that gets you an everyday lense (24-105), a zoom for those birds and soccer games (100-400) and medium shots too in low ight (70-200), the only one missing is a true wide angle which is the

“Canon EF 16-35mm F/2.8L II USM”:http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1082/cat/11 which is another amazing 9.67/10 lense. Main bummer is it takes an 88mm filter instead of the 77mm that all of the other lenses above take. These big wide angles tend not to be too sharp, but this one is very sharp wide open at F/2.8 and then gets software at F/4-5.6. The sweet spot appears to be about 24mm at F/5.6. If you zoom out to 20mm, losts of softness goes away. On a full frame sensor thought, it has lots of issues with corner sharpness even at F/8 and there is quite a bit of chromatic aberration at 16mm but does best at F/2.8. It also vignettes quite a bit with a full frame. About 1.75 stops at the corner darker. Low distortion is at 22mm on full frame.

With a fast camera like the 5D Mark ii, the “Canon EF 17-40mm F/4L USM”
“Canon EF 17-40mm F/2.8L II USM”:http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/31/cat/11 which is another amazing 9.67/10 lense. might be a better choice because it is half the price at $680 vs. $1300.

h3. Subframe sensors

If you have an APS-sized sensor like the 50D or the 450D, then there are a bunch of very nice lenses that take advantage of the smaller frame size:

“Canon EF-S 10-22mm F/3.5-4.5 USM”:http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/135/cat/11. 8.82/10 quality. Its maximum sharpness is between F5.6-8 at 10mm and F8 at 14mm and 22mm. Chromatic abberation is a little high at 10mm. Shading is a little high as well at 0.85EV at F/2.8 and 10mm but drops to 0.5EV at F/5.6. Distortion is actually kind of amazingly low.

“Canon EF-S 17-55 F/2.8 IS USM”:http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/353/cat/11. 9.41/10 image quality. It is very sharp at F/4, but at F/2.8, it is OK. Chromatic aberration is a week point, with high CA at 17mm. High vignetter of 0.85 EV at 17mm and F/2.8 but drops at half at F/4. Distortion is modest at 17mm, but gets high at 20mm. Good for available light shots with older generation Canons like by 350D.

Finally point if you win the lottery and want to do really great wildlife or available light soccer games, then the $5000 “Canon EF 500mm F/4L IS USM”:http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/168/cat/10. If you can manage the 13 pounds of weight. You pretty much want to get a 1.4x convertor and use a fast camera like the 5D Mark II to get those wildlife shots at dusk.

Importing Canon camera images

Canon’s are quite different from Nikon. Nikons just appear as hard drives on your computer, but Canon doesn’t allow it. Instead, you have to either install their shovelware to import or get a card reader for their CF cards.

If you have a Mac, then iPhoto knows how to read them too, so you can import them. They do get sucked deep into the iPhoto library directories, but you can find and copy them with Show File.

a href=”http://www.ehmac.ca/mac-ipod-help-troubleshooting/49359-connecting-canon-camera-my-mac-install-software.html”>Connecting Canon camera to my Mac- install software? – ehMac.ca

General consensus is that Canon cameras don’t mount onto the desktop, but is seen by iPhoto. If you want to mount it onto the Finder, you’ll need to use the card reader.

Less sophisticated but ultracompact

So it looks like the advanced compact cameras are really a turkey shoot between the Panasonic DMC-LX3 and the upcoming Canon G10. As an aside the 5MP camera we are replacing is a “Canon SD400”:http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/canon/powershot_sd400-review/ which is 5.7 cubic inches and 130 grams. So it would be nice to get something about the same size.

What about something without all the manual controls and fine lenses that is fine for daylight use but is incredibly small. What’s the smallest decent camera you can buy. “DCViews”:http://dcviews.com is useful for high-end cameras, but not for low end. I’ve found that “DCResource”:http://dcresource.com is one of the few sites that actually reviews these low-end cameras.

If you care about available light photography, then you have to go all the way back to the “Fuji F30”:http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/fuji/finepix_f30-review/ to get a decent camera. We have the F10 and F11 and they are remarkable. Nonetheless of the current crop, here’s a stack rank:

* “Canon PowerShot SD1100″:http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/canon/powershot_sd1100-review/index.shtml. It’s 8MP and 38-114MM F/2.-F/4.9 and with a view finder and 2.5″ screen at 3.4×2.2×0.9” and 125g. Canon has an incredible complicated line of PowerShots. But essentailly there is the very compact SD1100 ($237 street). Image quality is decent to ISO 200.
* “SD790″:http://dcresource.com/reviews/canon/powershot_sd790-review/index.shtml is a 10MP with the 3″ screen and no optical viewfinder. It is slightly wider 3.6″ and slighly thinner 0.8”. It also has a underwater case for $149. Image quality is decent upto ISO 200.
* “Panasonic DMC-FX35”:http://dcresource.com/reviews/panasonic/dmc_fx35-review/index.shtml. It has got a 24mm equivalent lense which is great. The main problem is that the image is quite noisy. Best to leave it at ISO 100 as you can see visible noise at 200.

Just going by size and weight, here are the leaders according to “DCResources”:http://deresource.com. Thos guys do the best compact camera reviews by the way. It is amazing how standard and incredibly high the features are. All of these have image stabilization and also are instant on and have 2.7″ screens without an optical viewfinder for instance. If you shoot for less than 7 cubic inches and 125 grams, you get. From the new section of dcviews, here are the latest and smallest cameras:

| Camera | Volume (cu. in.) | Mass (empty) | Comment |
| Canon SD1100 | 6.7 | 125g | viewfinder |
| Canon SD790 | 6.3 || 155g | 3″ ISO 200 |
| Casio EX-Z250″*”:http://dcviews.com/cameras/casio_news.htm | 6.6 | 119g | |
| Fuji Z20fd | 6.3 | 110g | |
| Nikon S520 | 7 | 115g ||
| Olympus FE-320 | 5.5 | 95g | Uses xD |
| Panasonic DMC-FX35 | 6.7 | 125g | 25mm, ISO 100 only |
| Pentax M50 | 7.3 | 116g |
| Samsung NV4 | 5.7 | 140g |
| Sony DSC-T700″*”:http://dcviews.com/cameras/sony_news.htm | 5.5 | 125g | 3.5″ memstick |

These models churn faster than milk into butter, so of course most of these have new models. I put an asterisk next to those. Some of these are easy to exclude. For instance the Olympus like uses xD cards which is why they are small, but these cards are really nonstandard.

High Quality Compact Camera

Well here are the choices right now in rough order and the net is that if you can hold off, the Canon G10 is probably good. I’d say for quality the LX3 is probably going to give higher quality shot but be larger.

* Panasonic DMC-LX3. Good quality to ISO 400 and great Leica lense. Reasonably compact. But the main thing is that it is a true wide angle at 14mm so that you can get nice landscapes. It only goes to 60mm equivalent so no zoom shots though. But I’d trade that anyday. Main problem is that it is a big camera. The lense is so large it makes the camera about 50mm or 2 inches high vs the much slimmer G9/G10
* Canon Sureshot G10 which is coming shortly might be better but the Sureshot G9 is their current 12MP camera. Very professional. Good through ISO 200 without noise, but like the Ricoh, relatively slow lense.
* Ricoh GX200. A nice update, but only shoots to ISO 200 without noise and lense is relatively slow so Panasonic is nicer.

The ones that are rejected are:

* Sigma DP1. Has a big sensor but it is amazingly slow. Requires 3 seconds shot to shot!
* Nikon P6000. Nice and new, but requires Windows Vista proprietary software to read its raw format. Ugh. Has GPS and Wifi.

Using Raw, DxO and Photomatix together

Well, as I’ve been using various programs, it is pretty clear that you have to be pretty careful about using the different programs. Some things you want to do earlier and some later. For instance, you probably want to sharpen last as this really changes the bits. “Larry Gerbrandt”:http://photos.larrygerbrandt.com/2007/07/24/hello-world/ has some recommendations on workflow that are in short:

# Shoot in RAW and JPG. This produces NEF for Nikon or CR2 for Canon. It usually contains one stop more information. I actually typically shoot both since many times I just need a photo quick and don’t have time to process it. Technically speaking, with JPEG you have 8-bits of information per color (24 bits total), while with RAW in most cameras you ahve 12-bits or with later cameras even 14-bits of information. That’s way more.
# Use DxO first on the raw image. This correct distortion and vignetting, so it should be the same across a group of images. Don’t use this program for sharpening and so forth. It produces TIFF and DNR files which are Adobe device-independent raw files.
# Photomatix. This takes multiple bracketed images (usually these should be at least +2 and -2EV, but correctly done, should be bracketed so the brightest shot is all the way to the right, really overexposed and the darkest shot is all the way to the left in the histogram all taken aperture priority to ensure the same focus). This produces .EXR files which are the raw high dynamic range and also .TIF files. You have to do it in this order because for some reason TIF files Photomatix produces, doesn’t have enough information for DxO to match the lense with it
# Noise Ninja. This is the last thing you use, it should be done in Photoshop because Noise Ninja standalone only read uncompressed TIF and TIFs are big enough.

Landscape Photography

Had a chance to read a landscape photography magazine. Some great tips

# “Neutral Density Graduated Filters”:http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/filters.htm are a good way to get a landscape where the sun is really bright and the landscape is dark. You get something which doesn’t require exposure bracketing and then processing with Photomatix to get a photo. A neutral density filter means it just makes things darker and it is darker at the top than the bottom. He uses what is called a Tiffen 0.6 which means two stops. It isn’t graduated by the way, there is just a light and dark area with a line, so you ahve to line it up at the horizon. “Adorama”:http://www.adorama.com/TF77CGND6X.html has them for $73 as Tiffen part number 77cgnd6.
# As an aside, if you don’t have a filter like this, but do exposure bracket, the other option is to meter the sky and then meter the earth, then bracket so that you cover proper exposure for both. One will be too dark and the other too light, then use a HDR program like Photomatix to stitch it together and it will in essence use the higher exposure for the darker parts and lower for the rest. “Ron Bigelow”:http://www.ronbigelow.com/articles/neutral-density/neutral-density.htm explains hot to do it manually with Photoshop.
# Get a single 77mm size filter and then buy a B+W step up ring so that you can use the same filter size. One of my lenses is 72mm and it is a pain not to have it match, so a step up ring for $12-20 is a great idea. “Adorama”:http://www.adorama.com/BWSR7772.html?sid=1211864761954378 has them for $20 that is B+W part 65041214 that steps from 72mm to 77mm filter.
# Ken likes Nikon and Hoya filters the best because of the thin mounts and low prices of Hoyas. Most other folks seem to like B+W. Most folks don’t like the cheaper filters like Tiffen except for graduate filters where he likes the all-glass Tiffens. You definitely by the way want multicoated and scratch resistant. One B+W lense I got was not MRC and it was scratched in 10 seconds.

“Great-Landscape-Photography”:http://www.great-landscape-photography.com/graduated-filters.html has advice for square filters that you put into a holder at the front of your camera. Normally it is on a tripod. They recommend Lee filters for this purpose. The nice thing about square filters is that you can have lots and lots of them and one holder so it is cheaper since it is not really mounted on your camera. “Bob Johnson’s Earthbounddelight”:http://www.earthboundlight.com/phototips/neutral-density-and-graduated-nd.html makes the same comment. Use holders not screw-on filters. The most useful being two-stop soft-edged (0.6 in Tiffin talk). He likes Singh-Ray for filters.