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Tips for Great Halloween Pictures

Posted on October 27, 2017 by Sean MacDonald

Every parent wants to get a great picture of their child in their Halloween costume. But how? Here are 5 key points to getting amazing pictures this Halloween:

 

1) Take the photo at the beginning of the night. If you wait until after they go out trick or treating, their costume might have gotten dirty, torn, and it will not look its best. Also, after we pump our children with sugar, they tend to not want to sit still long enough to get a photo.

 

2) Get some extra light. If you are trying to take a picture in the evening or indoors, usually the light quality is pretty poor. Your photo can be improved dramatically just by adding some external light. Even if you are shooting with your phone, you can get great results by adding light.

If you have an external flash, get that flash off camera and put it at a 45 degree angle between you and your child. If you don't have a flash or external lighting, try to find a window nearby if it is still light out. If all else fails, put your TV on a white screen and use it as a giant light box.

 

3) Find a clean background. If you can find a clean wall or space in the yard that doesn't have a lot of distracting elements in it, use that. If you can't find clean spot, use a background or a piece of foam board from Hobby Lobby to give it a professional studio look. I love using black foam board, and it’s only a few dollars at many stores.

 

4) Have your child pose as the character they are dressed as to add some character to your photo. If your daughter dresses as a princess, have her pose elegantly walking down a staircase. If your son is dressed as something scary, have him pose doing something scary.

 

5) Don't get stressed out. Most likely, your child will not want to cooperate for more than a minute or two. They want to get out there and GET SOME CANDY! Set up your shot before putting them in front of the camera. Make it fun, give them a piece of candy every minute they are in front of the camera.

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Tamron 18-400mm

Posted on September 21, 2017 by Sean MacDonald

There was a lot of hype around the release of the Tamron 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3. How could Tamron possibly design a lens with such a wide range of focal length, exceptional build quality and live up to the Tamron standard of stabilization? Many questions came up about the image quality of the 22.2x zoom lens and its $649.00 price point. This lens gives consumers the potential to never have to own another lens. It is made specifically for APS-C crop sensor bodies giving the user the equivalent of 620mm on 35mm full frame.

We were excited to get our hands on a few of these new lenses and try them out for ourselves. We haven't taken the lens out for an extended period of time, but we did have a chance to test it in our studio and see how well the stabilization does when zoomed all the way out to 400mm. After a few minutes, I realized this lens wasn't a joke. I was able to hand hold the camera at 400mm and get decent shots of a couple birds hanging out on the smokestack of the boat.

I took a nice 50mm, wider shot of the boat from across the highway. Once I saw the birds on the smokestack, I thought it was a great opportunity to test out the range and quality. The birds we just barely out of range for me to get perfect focus on them, but I thought the lens performed very well when the stabilization kicked in.

 

I will say this lens was definitely not designed for portraits or good low light performance for that matter. Like most variable aperture lenses, it is tough to get a well exposed portrait and have a soft background. If you are planning on purchasing this lens and think you can use it for good portrait photography, I would consider some other options by Canon or Nikon. Lenses like a 50mm prime or 85mm will allow you to use a faster aperture like f/1.8 and get a soft background blur.

 

I really wanted to see how the 18-400mm stacked up against its big brother, the Tamron 150-600mm G2 version. I noticed a calm seagull sitting on top of a street light and quickly grabbed both lenses. I first took a few shots with the 18-400mm.

I was able to get good focus on the bird at 400mm and took the shot. I will remind you that this was taken while hand holding the camera, enough said. Happy with the shot, I mounted up the 150-600mm. The second shot I took was at 600mm and you can see the photo is a touch crisper on the bird. I hand held this shot as well. Both lenses performed well, but you can obviously see that the 150-600mm is sharper and has more reach. That lens is also $1,299.00, double the price of the 18-400mm, so that is expected.

 

In the end, I am impressed by the quality of the 18-400mm. It has a solid build and I can't forget to mention that beautiful black paint. If you are looking for reach, this lens has it. At half of the price of the 150-600mm G2, the 18-400mm is worth the look if you are in the market for a super zoom lens.

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Recent Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Recall

Posted on September 12, 2017 by Mason Bauer

Do you own a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens? If so, your lens might be affected by a focusing issue.

Don't panic. We have all of the information you need to know about checking your product and contacting Canon's customer service.

The Issue

While in AF or MF mode, when the lens focuses from infinity to close-up, the focusing operation will often get stuck at the position marked by the red circle below.

Before you grab your 50mm lens and start messing with the focusing system to see if it is affected, there are only a certain number of products that are defective.

How to Check Your Product

If you take a look at the bottom of the lens where the mounting plate is, you will see a series of numbers. These numbers are the serial number for your specific lens (see image below). The only thing you have to look for are the first four digits of the serial number (marked by red box). If the first four numbers are “4918”, “5018”, “5118”,  “5119”, “5218”, “5219”, “5318”, “5319”, “5418”,  or “5419" then your lens may possibly be affected by the issue. If your product has matching digits, you should contact the Canon service department, and they will walk you through the process of sending your lens in for repair.

Upon sending the item in, it will be inspected, and if necessary repaired free of charge.

How to Contact Canon

Contact Information for Inquiries
Canon Customer Support Center
Phone:  1-800-OK-CANON
  1-800-652-2666
TDD: 1-866-251-3752
Email: carecenter@cits.canon.com 
Support options and hours of operation: www.usa.canon.com/support

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Wedding Lenses

Posted on September 08, 2017 by Sean MacDonald

Last week we posted about the best lenses for wedding photography. A couple days later, Sean had a wedding to shoot. So we thought it would be fun to show what he took with him! So here is a sneak into what he took and why. Here are his thoughts:

 

Canon 5DIV: Love this camera as the focus is amazing. I found out first hand that Live View is MUCH more accurate and dependable than the optical focus system. I also love any camera that shoots dual cards so I can have an immediate backup. Redundancy is important when shooting weddings.

 

Canon 17-40 f4L: Something wide. I knew this was going to be an outside wedding and we would have a good amount of light. If I was shooting an indoor wedding, or a late reception, I would have opted for the faster 16-35 f2.8L III.

 

 

Canon 50 f1.2L: Something Fast. I wanted at least one lens that had a VERY large aperture incase I get myself into a really low light situation. At f1.2, this lens collects so much light, it can get you out of a bind in almost any situation.

 

 

Canon 100L Macro: Something Macro. This is my go-to lens for weddings. It is amazing at details. It is amazing at portraits. It is amazing at about anything in between. I find this lens on my camera about half of the day.

 

 

Tamron 70-200: Something Long. I need a good long telephoto lens to capture things far away. Whether it is the bride and groom at the altar, or a detail shot like the one below. (This is the brides horse). A good telephoto zoom lens cannot be replaced. I grabbed the Tamron version because I wanted to test it out and get familiar with it compared to the Canon version I usually use. I really liked this lens, but our copy needs to be micro adjusted badly. It was front focusing about 10' or so on this shot. I flipped the 5DIV to Live View, where the focusing is on the sensor not through the optical viewfinder and it nailed this shot. We will be micro adjusting our copy this week.

 

 

So as you can see I sort of stuck with the advice we posted before, but kind of mixed the two categories a bit. A few primes and a few zooms. But most importantly, I have my focal lengths covered. I have some zooms to give me flexibility, and some primes for low light.

 

Let us know below what you prefer for your ideal wedding gear setup!

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The best lenses for wedding photography!

Posted on August 30, 2017 by Mason Bauer

Wedding photography is arguably one of the most difficult challenges you can face in your photography career. Not only do you need to have artistic and creative ability, an eye for detail, and great communication skills, you have to be quick on your feet to get that priceless shot. Many different situations can arise at any moment, so you need to be prepared with the gear you have.

At a minimum, you should have a lens for shooting wide angle, mid range, and telephoto. There are a few different routes you can take to achieve this setup, and we are going to tell you the pros and cons of each.

Shooting Zoom vs Prime Lenses

There are two breeds of photographers: those who swear by prime lenses, and those who prefer zooms. There is a middle ground between the two, which is where most people may be, but we will touch on that later.

Each side has its pros and cons, and no one side is "better" than the other. It's all about what lens the shooter is comfortable with, and which lens allows them to get the shot they need.

Zoom Lenses

Pros:

  1. Flexibility - Zoom lenses allow for the most flexibility, hands down.When you're in a pinch and can't move, a zoom will allow you to compose your shot easier than using a prime.

  2. One Lens - A good zoom lens will give the photographer the ability to use one lens if needed. When using only prime lenses, you may find yourself switching lenses a lot, which means you will need to carry a lot more lenses.

Cons:

  1. Price - A quality zoom lens can be pricey. Finding a zoom lens with a fast aperture like f/2.8, quality glass, and quality construction for under $1,000 is really hard.

Prime Lenses

Pros:

  1. Image quality - Prime lenses have fewer components on the inside of the lens since they do not need to zoom. This allows for the glass inside the lens to be more exact and produce a crisper image.

  2. Aperture - Once again, since there is less going on inside the lens, these lenses are able to shoot wider open at f/1.8, f/1.4, or even f/1.2, giving you that awesome background blur, and low light performance.

  3. Technique - This isn't so much a "pro", but what it does to the photographers sense of composition and framing. Prime lenses make the person running the camera think a little bit more about the shot. You are unable to zoom, so you need to make the shot happen, and not wait for it.

Cons:

  1. No Zoom - Be prepared to switch lenses, A LOT. Going from wide, to mid range, and then to long or telephoto, you're going to be changing lenses a lot. Also not being able to zoom means you're going to be moving a lot as well. For some this isn't a big deal, but for others it is a deal breaker.

  2. No Image Stabilization - Most Canon L series prime lenses do not have built in stabilization, though there are some lens manufacturers that build primes with IS (Tamron). Especially when using a longer focal length prime lens, the absence of IS is a lot more apparent than if you were shooting wider like 24mm or 35mm.

Now that we've covered both ends of the spectrum, lets get into what lenses you should be getting for each shooting style.

Top 3 Zooms

1. 70-200mm f/2.8 IS Lens

No matter what system you shoot on (Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc) you're going to want one of these in your arsenal. This lens allows you to get that extra reach you never could achieve before. With this lens used wide open at f/2.8, paired with the compression you get at 200mm, the background has this beautiful blur that is sure to impress. The zoom allows you to get close to the moment without disturbing everyone, such as this image:

 The 70-200mm is the lens recommended for our telephoto zoom users. 

2. 24-70mm f/2.8 IS Lens

This is the MOST versatile lens money can buy. If you consider yourself to be a portrait/wedding photographer, you definitely should have one of these. The ability to shoot wide open at f/2.8 is what makes this lens so special. You are able to shoot wide at 24mm to get that nice wide environmental image, and then come in tight to get an awesome portrait shot.

 

3. 16-35mm f/2.8 IS or Ultra-Wide Lens

The last of our zoom lens recommendations is the 16-35 f/2.8 or any other fast ultra-wide lens. When the 24-70mm just can not get wide enough, turn to this lens to get awesome environment shots. Whether inside of the church, or outdoors on the beach, you will be able to capture all of the beautiful surroundings with an ultra-wide lens.

 

*Shot at 24mm*

Top 3 Primes

1. 14mm - 24mm Prime Lenses

For the prime shooters out there, these are your wide-angle options. These are the best focal lengths for showing the environment during a wedding ceremony or the reception hall. 

 

2. 50mm Lens

The 50mm covers a mid-range focal length that can be used to capture beautiful portraits, or if you step back, you can capture the subject with the environment like the image below.

 

3. 85mm or 135mm Lens

Finishing off the list on the longer side of focal lengths is the 85mm and 135mm prime lenses. At these focal lengths you are able to achieve amazing compression, giving your subject great separation from the background.

Specialty Lenses

These lenses may not be used every day, but they can be a great addition to your arsenal.

100mm Macro f/2.8 IS Lens

The bride and groom are spending lots of money on all the little details, so you need a lens to capture them. This lens allows you to focus closer to your subject than any of the others. You'll be able to get amazing photos of wedding rings, the bride's shoes, and the small things you never could before. You're going to see a spike in your creativity once you pick up this lens!

 

Fisheye Lens

Oh the fisheye. Some hate it, others love it. This lens has some major distortion, but that is the point. If used correctly, this lens can give you a wacky alternative to the same old reception hall shot. I wouldn't say that you would be using this lens everyday, but from time to time it can be fun to shoot at 8mm, and it can add a little extra flare to your wedding photography. 

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