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Disadvantages & Advantages

This post is by no means a thorough technical investigation on the usage of camera RAW file format on the DSLR. It is simply a real world look at the disadvantages and advantages of shooting RAW.

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Canon EOS 50D menu selection for RAW/jpeg files.

Camera RAW files are the data captured by the image sensor and left unprocessed and uncompressed by the DSLR’s processors. Unlike jpeg files, where the DSLR’s chips processes and shrinks the image accordingly to the selected jpeg size thereby permanently compressing the RAW file. A computer software (RAW converter) is needed to process into RAW files into an actual viewable and printable image file. RAW files are the norm for many pro photographers. Unfortunately, not all. Those that do can attest to and live by the standard. Many even make a good living in shooting RAW files. Just do a quick look at any of the reputable stock image companies and all their inventory are from RAW format.

Disadvantages of Shooting RAW File Format
1. Typical file size more than 15mb. Takes up a lot of space on the cf /sd card and hard drive of computer- it becomes more expensive as external back up drives are also needed.
2. Camera RAW files not usable right out of the DSLR. RAW files will need to be post processed to some extent in software (but RAW conversion softwares are bountiful).
3. Camera RAW files need time to edit and process. Unlike jpegs that can be used immediately after shutter is pressed and uploaded to any social media of choice.
4. A fast computer is recommended for processing RAW. With 18 mega pixels as norm today on DSLR models the files get bigger and require newer computers with up to date hardware/software combo. It can become more expensive but there are some free software available.

Advantages of Shooting RAW File Format
1. RAW files are like film negatives where in all the information captured (sort of a loss-less file, if you will) from the sensor are stored on the cf/sd card unprocessed by the DSLR thereby preserving the original exposure in all it’s mega pixel glory (usually 16bit colors).
2. An otherwise unusable shot on jpeg file goes to the trash bin while if an image captured in Camera RAW format can be ‘rescued’ in post processing softwares.
3. RAW files are significantly better in dynamic range than jpeg where blown out highlights and shadows can be brought out to a certain degree.
4. Lens distortion can be corrected, chromatic aberration can be lessened and noise can be reduced without loosing too much sharpness.
7. If Canon user, RAW converter (Digital Professional Photographer) is FREE and included in box. Don’t put your hard earned DSLR to waste.

The original image below was captured using a Canon EOS 50D with a 22 year old Canon EF 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 (1989). The 1 RAW file was then processed into the many versions with a few minutes time using Canon’s Digital Professional Photographer on an iMac.

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Original RAW out of camera shot without any post processing work.

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Post processed using RAW conversion to highlight silhouetted DSLR & lens.

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Same image as above. HDR rendered with Photomatix pro directly from RAW file.

The next set of images were from the dslr pictured above captured on the same day. Images were captured in RAW format with a Canon EOS 7D with EF 24-70mm f/2.8. All processed to jpeg with Canon’s DPP.

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Original RAW out of camera shot without any post processing work.

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RAW file post processed using Canon

If these shots were captured using jpegs, undoubtedly, post processing them to be upload standard would have been a time consuming and tedious chore. But, there is really nothing wrong with jpegs as long as the images won’t be intended for scrutiny or large print somewhere down the line.

With RAW camera files, they can be stored on external drives for a very long time. While most RAW converters are upgraded eventually with better algorithm and features stored RAW files may be reprocessed again for future use.

It is highly recommended to start shooting in RAW. Much of the advantages of using RAW far outweigh the disadvantages. One day a magazine might call and ask for an image. With RAW, the options are all within a few mouse clicks.

Update: December 1, 2010

Seeing quite a few views on this post. If your EOS 50D shutter button stops working don’t panic. Just bring it in to Canon for repairs. I promise it won’t hurt. Read on…

SHUTTER BUTTON SWITCH RELEASE

First off, shutter assembly and shutter button switch release, although very much related, are 2 very different components within the hand grip of a DSLR. Now, on to the cold sweat inducing-body contorting set back.

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Cutaway view of the hand grip with shutter switch release

A few months ago during an event shoot the EOS 50D’s shutter button would not take a shot after achieving auto focus. The cam emitted the all too familiar beep and still no go. After trying a few more times albeit with more tap tap pressure than normal the shutter button finally released the mirror to take a shot.

More events were covered without another hitch until some weeks ago. There were no warning beeps, blinking lights or ERR 99 on the LCD. The shutter button had finally succumbed to fingerly abuses while only achieving auto focus but no mirror clak-claking to take a photo. The battery grip (BG-E2N) saved this photographer from an embarrassing situation and served as the main shutter button for both horizontal and vertical shots. Imagine the contorting positions while composing a frame and good thing the 50D’s a second cam with a wide angle lens attached.

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Shutter switch release component: top and bottom view. Notice the darker portion of the red circle-that

There was just no time to search the net for answers and hoping a call to Canon Philippines would get me the proper psycological remedy. The call got me Canon Philippines customer service reps. The cause of shutter failure could be 1. shutter assembly or 2. shutter switch release needed replacing. Without parts on hand repairs would take 2-4 weeks or longer and that was not a very favorable answer for having another shoot lined up in a week. Oh, cold sweat had started beading up all over.

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4" Iron Man modelling the tiny shutter switch release

But 30 minutes later, after frantically searching, got the phone number for Canon service center on Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong. Gave them a call and talked with a supervisor on the dire situation. Finally, a bright future ahead, the switch release replacement part was on hand but no shutter assembly. With that, a trip to Canon Shaw Blvd wishing the problem is the shutter switch release.

Arriving at Shaw Blvd at 11 am, noticed instantly how helpful and cheery the staff was. Very different from the normal sales team at some of the Canon boutiques. Within 5 minutes at the proper hands of a spotless lab coat wearing technician the culprit is the shutter switch release. Feeling quite the relief while begging and pleading got the EOS 50D repaired, cleaned and back in my dirty paws before 2:15pm (It helped to mention photography as a means of living).

Thank you very much and 2 thumbs up to Joseph and his team at Canon Shaw Blvd for the exceptional service. Most importantly, even without CPS, this photographer was given back one of his work horses for another shoot. The shutter switch release was only PHP133.93 (approx. US$4) and workshop repair charge at PHP1,116.07 (approx. US$35). Everything totaled at PHP1,400 and a very small price to pay for the return of a second camera.

CRATER LAKE PINATUBO: THROUGH A DSLR

Here’s Mt. Pinatubo: Part 1 and Part 2.

Enjoy the third and last installment from my Mt. Pinatubo series.

I am posting this on a break from work here in Taipei so you’ll forgive me for the wordlessness of this post. After all, this is a photo blog =) -thats just the most convenient excuse I can think of now…

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When I lived on street level, as opposed to high rise condominium, I could not fully appreciate the beauty of a sunset.

Now that I’ve been living in a high rise for a few years the view of a sun setting is amazing. Even if the sun sets on the same spot on the horizon everyday the ambiance, clouds and colors are always unique to each day. The outcome of the days view mainly depends on weather conditions.

One disadvantage of living in a condo building is not having a grass lawn or backyard for the kids. Then again, how would one really define back yard?

Below are some views from my called back porch…

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EXIF: Oct 16,2009 17:28:29 1/40 f8 ISO 100. Captured after heavy raining during a humid afternoon.

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EXIF: Oct 19, 2009 17:43:06 1/13 f20 ISO 200. The weather was a chance of light rain and rain it did. Without clouds the sun would not have a place to reflect colors

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EXIF: Oct 21, 2009 17:49:19 1/25 f3.5 ISO 400. It rained that whole afternoon. The actual sunset was ordinarily hazy and grey but when the sun disappeared it cast a red war paint glow.

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EXIF: Oct 29, 2009 19:03:17 1/60 f4.0 ISO 200. The autonomous region of cupcake el strawberry. Light and creamy icing with a moist center-when ingested it produced a hallucination of sunset proportions.

INTRODUCING THE ULTIMATE MULTIMEDIA IMAGING SOLUTION: THE NEW CANON EOS-1D MARK IV DIGITAL SLR CAMERA

October 20, 2009, Canon has again introduced a new DSLR just barely a month after the EOS 7D.

Image from Canon USA

Image from Canon USA

The EOS-1D Mark IV is a high-speed multimedia performance monster with a 16-megapixel Canon CMOS sensor (APS-H 1.3x), Dual DIGIC 4 Imaging Processors, and 14-bit A/D data conversion, all at 10 frames-per-second (fps), with the widest ISO range Canon has produced to date. This new camera also features 1080p Full High-Definition video capture at selectable frame rates packaged in Canon’s most rugged and durable professional camera body.

Cover page to the Japanese bochure

Cover page to the Japanese bochure

The ISO ranges from the standard 100 to 12,500. With expansion settings of L: ISO 50 for really bright environments and ISO H1: 25,600, H2: 51,200, and H3: 102,400 for ‘even the most dimly lit situations’. Hoping that noise levels will be at the really low end. Dragging so much gear just to shoot a fireworks display is just so unfashionable. The MK IV will let the tripod stay home. That would be a dream come true.

Another major change is the completely redesigned 45-point AF system including 39 cross-type points, a new AI Servo II AF focus tracking system with improved algorithm combined with 10 fps continuous shooting, claiming the Mark IV will be able to handle high speed situations with ease. Now, imagine shooting a swimmer diving into the water in perfect form. Focusing on the swimmer and following through until the swimmer hits the water. And every frame is in focus. Could it be?

With the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver just a stones throw away, the Mark IV will get it’s intended use with the pro sports shooters having a go with the new AF system. By then, there will be news if Canon is on top of their game once again or they are still tumbling down the slope. Yes, a little pun intended…

Sample photo taken with the 1D MK IV. Click to enlarge.

Sample photo taken with the 1D MK IV. Click to enlarge.

There is nothing concrete about this EOS yet. No one has done a review of it’s ‘low level noise’ high ISO range. If the H1-3 range lives up to Canon’s statement then the MK IV will surely be in the hands of many event shooters. Until then, this will just be one for the pro sport shooters who will need to purchase a replacement for the MK III.

Image from Canon

Image from Canon click to enlarge

The Mark IV is just a little too much for this event shooter. Until I start charging USD2,000 per event I think the EOS 7D and EOS 50D are just perfectly suited to my project requirements. And a jump in my fee to that amount will definitely not be a fine example in marketing strategy.

At USD5,000 (approx. PHP235,000) for body only, this will clean out the bank account so fast you’ll be reminded of Robert De Niro et al robbing the bank in Heat-oh, I still love that movie. Anyway, a few new IS L lenses at a fraction of the cost to use with my APS-C (1.6x) bodies are a much better purchase.

Here some good reads at Ephotozine and Canon UK (Official press release).

Canon Project Rebuild

CPR posterSome of you may have damaged Canon products from the flood. Don’t buy new ones yet…

Good news!!

You can now bring in your gear for repair at official Canon repair centers. I would have preferred a free repair since it’s called Canon Project Rebuild but i guess 50% off is just as good.

The repair project would have been more charitable if Canon sponsored the parts for free with 50% discount on labor. Ah well, I guess they would have to pay for the horrendous import and VAT taxes imposed on electronic parts and products by the Philippine government.

Give them a call or take them to the service centers:

  • MAKATI CITY
    5th Floor, Marvin Plaza Building
    2153 Don Chino Roces Avenue
    Makati City 884-9000
  • MANDALUYONG CITY
    Liberty Center, Freedom Plaza
    Ground Floor Retail Row Unit 1 & 2 Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City

Canon, delighting you, uhm…. always (most of the time).

Reflexion: Celebrating 50 years of Canon SLR

Image from Canon Rumors

Image from Canon Rumors

Canon Australia has sent out an RSVP invite for the celebration of Canon’s 50 years of SLR. Mr. Kobayahsi sure knows how to throw a party! I’ll bet my pet fish that the silhouette on the invite is the new EOS 1D MK4 they will be unveiling. So sad for all of us here in the Philippines… more on the new EOS heavy weight soon. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: OCTOBER 2009: CANON MARATHON HAS BEEN CANCELED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE DUE TO TYPHOON ONDOY.

Training for the big day.

Training for the big day.

According to my Apple Dictionary the word marathon is defined as such:

noun
a long-distance running race, strictly one of 26 miles and 385 yards (42.195 km).
• [usu. with adj. ] a long-lasting or difficult task or operation of a specified kind : the last leg of an interview marathon that began this summer.
• [as adj. ] of great duration or distance; very long : marathon workdays.

Based on this definition my palms get slightly sweaty. 42.195 km is a distance that will most likely take an average person 4-5 hours to run.  Average meaning no vile vices, sleeps 7-8 hours a day and eats right with body weight matching their height. The numbers are not from some statistic but just a guesstimate based on a friends track record. Seems the running task at hand is a little daunting to me.

It’s that time of year again for Canon’s Photo Marathon Asia. This marathon is open to all Canon DSLR and point & shoot users. Plus a new video category added just for ’09 for all the 5D MK II and 500D owners. This is actually a 1 day event lasting from 6 in the morning til past 10 pm. Competing against strict contest criteria and deadlines, a maximum of 900 photographers will get the chance to win per theme in an assigned locale by Canon.

Participating Asian countries are: Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Philippines. These countries are divided into 2 regions. The first 6 countries get the “6 Countries, 6000 People, 1 Competition” and the latter 3 labeled it the “Go further, Get More Photo Marathon 09“. Go now and register if you are up for a sweaty blistering challenge. Think of this as a great exercise in shooting on the go- think guerilla warfare tactics managing through the jungles of Mindanao. Except when tired and thirsty you get the chance of walking into a 7-11.

Some countries start early October so join up and give those sensors a good work out! Trust me, it will be fun. How many days in a year do you ever get to see so many photographers running around shooting Canons?! See you all there and don’t forget to bring some towels cause it’s gonna get sweaty.

Real photojournalism at it's finest at the expense of the Jo mobile.

Real photojournalism at it's finest at the expense of the misterkodaker mobile.

Lastly, I would like to give a heart felt pat on the back to a friend who survived this and is doing ok, phew, that was a close one!

Yes, this photo is real. Good thing he always travels with a camera.

The incident is under investigation and I truly hope my friend receives proper compensation (a refund or a brand new one!).

Update September 14, 2009: Canon Philippines- The EOS 7D’s body retails for P99,950. The 7D kit with an EF-S 18-135-mm lens stickers at P124,950, while the 7D with the 15-85-mm lens is priced at P144,950. – info from www.philstar.com

Image from Canon USA

Image from Canon USA

Canon, really delighting you always! 12 noon (Manila time) a press release in Lake Success, NY, announcing the new Canon flagship of APS-C (x1.6) sensor, the EOS 7D. The dual digic 4 wonder called the Image Monster in Japan, boasts of new technology that will put the camera on the forefront of many pro photo events. Though it’s only semi-weather sealed, it can take a drizzle of rain shower but won’t survive a monsoon spell or a drop unto the beach just as a beautiful wave come crashing in. “The camera’s nine internal seals enhance weather resistance, and its 150,000-cycle shutter durability positions the EOS 7D as a “workhorse” for professionals in any photography discipline.” -from Canon press release.

Image from Canon USA

Image from Canon USA

Introducing the completely new auto focus system that has 19 multi-points cross-type AF and an improved AI Servo AF. Combined with the skill set of an events photographer this will greatly improve the dynamism of images the 7D is able to produce. Think panning method. It is now easier to track and capture a moving subject without that “hope the subject comes out sharp…” in the back of your mind.

My wish has been granted, armed with the Dual Digic 4 processors there is no doubt an increase in the dynamic range and noise reduction in low light capture. This handy feature will make shooting in a dimly lit hotel ballroom environment easier and less nerve wracking. The Dual Digic 4 cross processes the image for better color, tones and highlights. Thereby reducing the post editing/processing and getting the images to the client more efficiently and beautifully.

Image from Canon USA

Image from Canon USA

The 7D can produce a frame rate of 8 per second on high speed continuous burst at 1.3 times faster than the EOS 50D. Now you can actually shoot the lighting of the candles on the cake before the first droplet of wax come dripping down. Believe me, this is fast. The 50D’s current burst mode already accomplishes this by getting a blow by blow, pardon the pun, on the happy birthday blowing of the candle song.

Not only does the 7D shoot like a zoom-zoom jet fighter it even saves on power doing it. The low power consumption is a plus to any photographer. An 8 hour event won’t even show a blinking low batt warning with the dual batteries in the grip of  the 50D. That is about 800-1000 images with extensive viewing to check images throughout the event. I would expect the battery of the 7D to last around 4 days of shooting during a vacation with the family. That is almost a no charging situation when an extra battery is available on a week’s jaunt.

Image from Canon

With the new EF-S 15-85mm F3.5-5.6 kit lens. Image from Canon

Just to keep things short, a great new addition is a “built-in Integrated Speedlite Transmitter for control of multiple off-camera EOS Speedlites without the need for an external transmitter.”. Now that’s a great reason to buy the 580 EX II or 430 EX II and goodbye to the expensive and often useless ST-E2.

The EOS 7D is quite an amazing advancement. As an events photographer this new APS-C flagship Canon DSLR will perform when it’s needed most. Assuming, of course, you’ve remembered to charge the batteries. But on the down side it has a whole new set of accessories. The magnesium alloy battery grip BG-E7 has been added with new buttons to control various functions and can hold 2 LP-E6 battery packs. The LP-E6 is the current battery for the 5D MK II which provides 1800 mAh of power. This pair will empty out the ATM of about $3-400 USD. Arf-arf… there goes the down payment for the family vacation…

Oh, by the way, the EOS 7D has CMOS sensor crammed with 18 million effective mega pixels. Like all photographers really need to print billboard size and it’s got the trendy new HD video. Like I’ll stop in the middle of an event and shoot a video only realizing later on that I’ve missed a good dramatic shot.

EOS 50D and EOS 7D comparison. Image from http://www.dpreview.com/previews/canoneos7d/

EOS 50D and EOS 7D comparison. Image from http://www.dpreview.com/previews/canoneos7d/

The 7D will be released by the end of September in the US at a price point of about $1,699 USD. Expect inflated pricing from Canon Philippines (actually a great way to protect authorized dealers) and possibly an end of October or mid November release. Save those coins, I am betting that this one will be on high demand with low supplies. Much like the sexy 5D MK II.

Here’s a leaked version of the press release from CR that was posted last night. Apparently it was originally in Japanese then translated to Mandarin Chinese and finally to English. And, finally, the official Canon press release. Plus the EOS 7D Special Site from Canon Japan. Have fun!

Here is an excellent and extensive Preview Report from dpreview.com. Check it out and judge for yourself.

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Shutter switch assembly: top and bottom view

JOURNEY TO MT. PINATUBO CRATER LAKE

Mac_3482x Mt Pinatubo Crater Lake

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