Photography, Software, Technology

Set It and Forget It – Automated, Secure, and Wireless Photography with the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Imagine you’re at Disneyland with the family. You’ve decided to tote around your DSLR or mirrorless camera with you on the trip. You’re happily taking photos of your little ones as they experience their first time on Dumbo the Flying Elephant, It’s a Small World, Haunted House, Pirates of the Caribbean and other rides that you loved as a kid. You just captured this wonderful photo of your child and Tow Mater at Radiator Springs, and you absolutely have got to share this with your friends and family on Facebook.

Tow Mater at California AdventureDo you:

  1. Fumble around in your camera bag for a cable and dongle to connect your camera to your smartphone?
  2. Turn on Wi-Fi on your camera (if available), connect to it from your smartphone, launch the camera connect app, wait for the connection to be established, select the photo, and download it to your phone?
  3. Tap your smartphone to your camera if they both support NFC, wait for the connection to be established, select the photo, and download it to your phone?
  4. Hope your wireless SD card (Eyefi, FlashAir, etc.) is working properly and your phone is connected to it to receive photos?
  5. Wait until you get home before downloading the image (and let that social moment pass you by)?
  6. Take another photo with your smartphone and share that image on Facebook instead of the one from your bigger camera?
  7. Say forget it, and keep the photographic proof to yourself?

There’s no reason why getting a photo from a dedicated camera to the smartphone or tablet should take so many steps and be so cumbersome, yet that’s the reality many photographers face today. Some argue this is precisely why sales of point-and-shoot, mirrorless, and DSLR digital cameras have fallen so much in recent years. Smartphones’ ability to share good enough photos trumps the boost in image quality from a dedicated camera for many people.

For the past several weeks, I have been developing a workflow that addresses this problem for me. It currently requires a certain kind of camera, namely the new Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, and some additional hardware and software. This workflow transforms my camera into a fantastic tool that marries the sharing convenience of the smartphone with the impressive image quality of a DSLR. Photos taken with this setup are automatically, securely, and conveniently transferred to the smartphone and cloud photo services of my choosing, including iCloud Photo Library, Google Photos, and Dropbox.

My solution requires some initial setup, but once implemented, it’s awesome! Perhaps it can inspire camera manufacturers and software companies to provide a better experience for dedicated digital cameras in the future.

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Journal, Photography

An Ode to the Domke F-3XB

My trusty Domke F-3XB camera bag with the new 5D Mark II

Christmas brought the new Canon EOS 5D Mark II to my camera collection. I’m looking forward to exercising its 1080p video and high ISO capabilities. In addition, I’m pleased by its reduction in size of my current 1D-series cameras. For the past six years, I’ve been stuffing my cameras into a Domke F-3XB bag.

The F-3XB is made primarily from ballistic nylon (unlike the F-3X, which is made from cotton canvas) and can hold a surprising amount of gear. As you can see in the photos below, my F-3XB has seen much usage over the years. It’s not as worn as this guy’s F-3, but it’s getting there. The shoulder strap has started to fray so much so that I’ve taped it up with gaffer tape. There’s a hole at the bottom of the left side pocket; once again, gaffer tape came in to save the day.

The lack of padding in most Domke bags is what makes it able to hold so much gear. This is why many people have praised them as being excellent bags to work out of.

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I used to wonder why Eric’s bag always looked bigger than mine until I realized that he had the larger Domke F-4AF bag. A 1D body + attached lens fits in the F-3XB, but it’s tight. With the new 5D Mark II, there’s now plenty of room for the camera, an attached lens, and a couple of extra lenses. And, because the 5D is much lighter than the 1D, the bag feels much better on my shoulder. I still might pick up an F-4AF in the future once I can no longer patch up the F-3XB. I may also get the backpack strap, which will make the bag much more comfortable on a long day of shooting. Until then, the F-3XB remains my favorite Domke bag, and the one that I turn to most often when running out the door. For Domke lovers, there’s a new forum on Tiffen’s (the owners of Domke) website. Jim Domke even posts there from time to time!

It’s been awhile since we had a bag night at COBA. Perhaps it’s time to organize a session for the first meeting of 2009 in February.


Update December 30, 2008: Sean left a comment on my site to check out the F-6. I’m going to have to go to a camera shop to see this in person. From photos that I’ve seen on the web, the F-6 looks like a shorter, but longer version of the F-3 without the side pockets. I have a four-section padded insert from my Domke J-1 and it manages to fill up the main compartment of my F-3XB. In the photo to the right, the space that’s to the left and right of the insert in the F-6 is about the same amount of space in the F-3’s side pockets. It’s a nice looking bag, and can be purchased for under $80, unlike the F-3, F-4, and F-2, which are all over $100.

Like I said, I’m going to have to check these bags out at a camera store in the future. Maybe the best decision is to own all of the bags!

Update #2 December 30, 2008: I caved in. I found someone local selling a Domke F-2 in ballistic nylon for a price I couldn’t refuse. It’s smaller than my J-1 bag and wider than my F-3XB bag. In the end, having the side pockets pushed me to get the F-2B instead of the F-6.

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COBA, Photography

Hold the Noise: Hands on with the Canon 5D Mark II

At last night’s COBA meeting, Jim Rose brought with him a production Canon EOS 5D Mark II, the hotly anticipated replacement for the original 5D. I was very interested in seeing the high ISO noise characteristics of the new camera, and it did not disappoint. Jim asked that I not upload any photos that I took, but what I’m seeing in the images is a complete lack of objectionable noise at ISOs 3200 and 6400 (12800 and 25600 had quite a bit of noise, but are suitable for web publication). While taking photos last week during Jared Polis’ congressional run, I frequently shot at ISO 1600, the usable limit on the 1D and 1Ds Mark II. Having the ability to jack up the ISO two stops without any noise creep is very important and is one of the reasons why I’m looking at the 5D as my next camera purchase. The other two reasons are the smaller form-factor and the HD video capability.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II at COBA

RED announced the Epic/Scarlet line of cameras today, and it’s clear the photo/video convergence marketplace is heating up. It’s an exciting time to be a still photographer and videographer, that’s for sure! The price for the full-frame sensor Scarlet body is tentatively set for $12,000, quite a pretty penny. The smaller sensor Scarlet varieties will weigh in between $2500 to $7000. Check out the website for all of the gory details, including great photos of the Scarlet in DSLR mode. What I like about these cameras is that to upgrade you just have to buy a new sensor module; the accessories like battery modules, grips, viewfinders, etc., remain the same. Of course, it doesn’t help that the sensor modules are the same price as a complete camera from Canon, Sony, etc., but hey it’s a start, no?

I wonder if Canon will ever radically reinvent the DSLR to be more of a modular system like the RED. You can be sure that they and their competitors are taking notes!

Next month’s COBA presentation will feature Oliver Klink on Bird Photography and Edward Casati on dance photography. It will also be our annual Holiday party, so be prepared to bring some drinks and food for the group!

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Canon EOS 5D Mark II

The cat is out of the bag with the new Canon EOS 5D Mark II. Looks like a nice camera with a price point that’s under $3000. I remember paying that much for the Canon EOS D30; my how far we’ve come in just eight years! From 3MP to 21MP!

I’m interested in the camera’s low-light, high ISO performance. Will it be competitive with the D3 and D700’s excellent high ISO performance? There’s mention of weather-resistance. How does it compare with the 1D-series, which I’ve found to be built like tanks.

The 1080p video capability also looks very intriguing. Unlike the D90, the 5D Mark II offers an external stereo microphone jack; could prove handy in a pinch, or when the need to create some stunning, wide-open aperture shots. I could definitely see myself using that feature for future documentaries and films.

The 5D Mark II is due out this November. Will I get one? Maybe!


Canon 1D Mark III AF… from Canon's Point of View

We’ve heard Rob Galbraith’s side of the story, now read Canon’s point of view on the issues surrounding the EOS Canon 1D Mark III autofocus performance.

I held out upgrading to the new cameras this time around. After lugging the 1D-body everywhere for the past 7 years, I’m ready to downsize. I really like the D700, with its full-frame sensor and rugged, yet portable body, but I’m not switching over to Nikon anytime soon. I’m hoping that the mythical 5D Mark II, rumored to come out in less than two days, will be everything that I want in a camera. Compact (by 1D standards), full-frame, weatherproof, and affordable.