Canon EOS 7D Mark II – Coming Soon?

So, the rumour mill has been grinding a lot recently about the arrival of this long-awaited addition to the Canon lineup.

It’s been 5 years since the original EOS 7D was released, and it has been hailed as one of the most successful models in the Canon range. None of the models released since target quite the same market as the 7D did. The 6D looked promising but is too slow (4.5fps) and full frame, meaning all those with EF-S lenses would have to ditch their lens investment and start again. The 70D again looked like a good compromise, but lacks the build quality and features and really does not offer enough benefits for existing 7D users to upgrade.

Looking back at what made the 7D stand out will hopefully give insight into what the new version may offer.

  • Dual Digic processors – making the camera nice and fast (8fps for the original model)
  • New AF system – a kind of trial run for the pro-level cameras?
  • Magnesium Alloy case, providing solid build quality and some weather proofing.

I’ve read the rumours elsewhere, and applied a little logic too in order to come up with what I think is the most likely, and most complete spec list for the 7D Mark II (and yes, I’m pretty sure that’s what Canon will call it!).

  • New high pixel count APS-C sensor – At least 24 megapixels, but likely higher. We’re expecting completely new technology on the sensor front.
  • sRAW mode
  • Significantly improved AF performance
  • Max non-extended ISO 16000
  • Much better performance (than the original 7D) in low light/high ISO.
  • GPS
  • HDR Mode
  • Combine multiple frames into a single imageEOS 7D Mark II top view
  • 100%+ Viewfinder
  • Full 1080p video at 60fps (4K video possible, but unlikely)
  • Magnesium Alloy body
  • 3″ ClearView II LCD
  • Weight: Approx 900g
  • CF and SD Card slots
  • Redesigned top retaining pop-up flash and hot-shoe but with extra bulge for GPS receiver

 

Announcements are expectedaround September 15th, with availability soon after. There is also talk of a new 100-400mm L series lens being announces at the same time. If that turns out to be true, I’ll have a whole new kit bag for my trip to Botswana in September!

 

Update July 6th: According to the website canonrumors.com, they have information from a very reliable source that the Non-Disclosure Agreements relating to the EOS 7D replacement will be lifted in September. This makes it highly likely that the camera will be released at Photokina in Cologne, Germany from the 16th September. Whilst I really can’t wait for the announcement, it does mean that I’m unlikely to get my hands on the new body before my departure to Botswana on the 19th September. Shame 🙁

 

 

Lytro Illum – The camera that rewrites the Photography rule-book

Anyone who knows me cannot deny my love of gadgets. If it has buttons, runs on batteries or plugs in, I want it.

The same applies to my photography – I like experimenting. In the good old days, that involved screwing a webcam or SLR to the back of my telescope or attaching lenses backwards to achieve macro-like focus.

More recently, I bought myself a Go Pro Hero 3 so I could film underwater in the pool. In actual fact, I ended up in an Airboat travelling about 30 mph across an alligator infested swamp shooting video at water level (see my other post on that!).

So, what’s next I often ask myself? Send the GoPro up to the edge of space on a weather balloon? Perhaps, but that’s been done already. How about a camera which lets you adjust your focal point AFTER the shot has been taken?
Enter, the Lytro Illum.Lytro Illum

I discovered this camera purely by accident when reading some tech previews on one of the many geeky websites I frequent. It’s not due for release until summer 2014, but I have been following it’s progress very closely, and it looks VERY exciting.

There is one problem I foresee – this camera will mean I have to throw away every photography book I own because it rewrites them. All of them.

The Lytro Illum is billed as a ‘Light Field camera’. What this means is that rather than having a traditional sensor just capturing the light hitting the pixels, this puppy captures the entire light ray! We’re not talking pixels, we’re talking rays – 40 million of them in total (of 40 ‘Megarays’)

By capturing the ray of light, this enables the photographer to pick the focal point within the image after it has been taken. The days of taking a one-in-a-million shot only to find you focused on the tree in the background are gone. Simply choose the subject which was supposed to be in focus and you have the image you were after. Not only does this increase your “keeper rate” dramatically, it adds another dimension, literally, when viewing the images afterwards. If, as if often the case these days, you create a slideshow or video to view and share your images, you can create pull-focus effects much like you see in any professional video work, all from a single image.

I can see many situations where the functionality of this camera is literally going to change the way we take pictures. We’re already starting to see similar (although nowhere near as advanced) features popping up in the latest smart phones, but I’m more interested in how it will perform with specialist subjects.

Lytro Illum Screen

For sports (not me!) and wildlife (me) photographers, the 1/4000sec shutter should be able to catch much of the action, and the 30-250mm (equivalent) lens has a pretty good reach.

The Macro performance intrigues me – the official specs state that it can focus down to 0mm in front of the lens. Yes, you did read that correctly – that’s ZERO millimetres.  That will give some pretty unique close-ups. One thing macro photography always suffers from is a very shallow depth of field, so I’ll be very interested to try some focus stacking from a single frame.

Landscapes might prove a bit of a problem as the wide-angle doesn’t seem that wide, but that remains to be seen.

The build quality looks good with a mix of Magnesium and Aluminium (or Aluminum as out American friends insist on calling it) in the body, and it weights only slightly more than a “prosumer” grade D-SLR body (without a lens attached).

 

 

 

Take a look at the documentary below with some stunning examples on how this thing works:

 

 

Who am I and Do you really know how flash sync works?

First off allow me to introduce myself, I am Greg’s Brother In Law and fellow budding photographer.  I hope to post some useful links for you and some of my own images if I ever think they’re good enough to share!  I have a lot to learn.

This link in question is to a site I’ve been watching lately run by photographers Patrick Hall (www.patrickhallphotography.com) and Lee Morris (www.rlmorris.com) called fstoppers.com They created the site in order to show high quality videos of photographers working and discussing their methods.

This video in question is by Paul Duncan and describes how flash sync works in hot shoe based DLSR flashes.

Most illuminating. Enjoy.

http://fstoppers.com/i-thought-i-understood-camera-shutters-and-flash-until-i-saw-this/

Speedlite

Raspberry Pi Water Dropper/Drink dispenser

Raspberry Pi

Since owning a couple of Raspberry Pi’s, many of the projects I intended to create with my Arduino were given a new lease of life.

The Arduino is great for doing I/O related stuff – so camera triggers based on various sensors, controlling robots, environmental monitors and home automation amongst other things. However, getting it talking to the outside world can start to get expensive. There are USB Host “shields”, ethernet shields, in fact more shields than a field full of saxon warriors would know what to do with. But, they are often time consuming to program for otherwise simple tasks such as running a web server, sending email alerts, etc.

This is where the Pi comes into its own. The interface to the outside world is there to use at will in the form of web pages, email, audio or even full HD video if you wish. You get a bunch of programmable GPIO pins thrown into the mix so if you need to add some buttons, sensors, motors or lights it can all be done very simply. That concludes my praise of the Raspberry Pi, now on to the project.

This expands upon a project I found by David Hunt which is a very simple way to trigger your DSLR in sync with a couple of droplets of water. The limitation of David’s version was that there was no way to trigger it quickly and easily without either hooking it up to your network or plugging in a keyboard and display. Essentially my project is the same – it uses a solenoid to release a couple of water drops in quick succession and then fires the camera shutter. Some good results are possible. I figured that by adding a pushbutton, the whole lot could be put in a small enclosure and used anywhere and without a computer or network. I then extended a little more by adding a web server (using the WebIOPi framework) and a wifi dongle to create an ad-hoc wireless network which can be connected to with your smartphone. The web interface provides a nice simple interface to allow complete customisation of how and when the droplets are released – how many drops, interval between them and delay before firing shutter. I have terminated the shutter release pins on a 2.5mm jack which is compatible with many low cost universal shutter release cables so this project should work with any camera (in theory) which can be fired using a shutter release cable. It also save having to chop up old cables and makes it look a bit tidier.

Other considerations which I am yet to implement are 2 additional trigger ports for off-camera flash. By using a longer shutter speed and using the flashes to provide all the light for the shots, it is possible to get extremely sharp shots and you can be creative with things like coloured gels. My Canon EOS 7D is quite happy commanding external flashed itself, so I’ve not bothered putting this functionality in yet, but perhaps I will if enough people ask for it.

Lastly, and a little obscurely – this very same device can be used as a the basis for a digital drinks measure. By having a different web page, using some food grade 6mm tubing and some modified bar optics (very cheap on eBay) it is possible to have your Pi dispense perfectly measured drinks for you . The Pi has 15 usable IO pins, so in theory that means it could control up to the same number of Solenoids – all attached to different bottles. Pop your glass under the “tap”, open the webpage and select the drink of choice from the menu – from milk to margaritas, Orgasms to orange juice. The choice is yours!

Pimp My Dishwasher

Smeg DishwasherSo, I’ve been trying to think of a decent use for my Raspberry Pi that nobody else has thought of yet. And then, my dishwasher sprang a leak all over the kitchen floor.

The status lights had been doing some weird stuff for a while, but normally just putting the thing on again got it going. What I didn’t know was that all those flashing lights meant that water was leaking out all over the kitchen floor, not doing the laminate flooring any good whatsoever.

So, what if the flood sensor (basically a switch connected to a lump of polystyrene) were connected to my RasPi which in turn was connected to my WiFi network? Any triggering of the sensor would initiate an email with a useful message telling me exactly what was wrong. Sounds good so far, but why stop there? How about notifications when the salt was running low, or the rinse aid needed filling up?

I’m now thinking a web interface would be good for the current status (much like the sort of thing you get on a networked printer) showing salt level, rinse aid level, current status and estimated time before complete.

Configurable alerts would be quite easy to set up for all of the above, including a mail when the cycle finishes. I have to take my trusty old SMEG apart again next week to replace a couple of o-rings and hopefully stop the leak. I’ll take a quick look at the circuitry while I’m inside and see what my conclusion is.

Watch this space!

Industrial Photography

Last night was “Camera Club Night”, with this weeks topic of Industrial Photography. I was a little unsure of what to expect but was pleasantly surprised to be given a very informative talk by Mr Rob Marvelly, a former employee of C.E.G.B and nPower. The first half of the evening was a fascinating projected slide show of his lifes work as an in-house photographer for the aforementioned companies. His images, whilst quite dated, were strangely fascinating. An insight in to a world that is rarely experienced by anyone apart from those in the business of generating energy. Nuclear Reactors, Power Station Control Rooms, men in white coats…..and ducks.

That’s where it got a bit strange. The second half of Bob’s (we knew him by then) presentation involved two 25 year old short videos. The first, 16 minutes long, was a safety video going in to a lot of detail of how they fixed a problem with some pipes at Dungeness Power Station. The second video, 28 minutes long, was a wildlife documentary detailing how the power industry are doing their bit for nature. Quite fascinating, but only because I’m a fan of wildlife documentaries – but hardly photography. All in all, a very informative evening although I think the die-hard photographers in the group may have felt a little cheated as there was little to be learned from a photography perspective.

 

So, you want to be a photoblographer then?

I want this to be a place where people share ideas, share their pictures, ask questions and answer them too.

Whether you’re a professional photographer looking to share your knowledge, or someone who would like to try photography but doesn’t know where to start, you are welcome here.

It may take me a while to get the site fully up and running, but please check back regularly or feel free to post to get a conversation started.