Basil the westie is a happy and friendly dog and always bring joy to me whenever I see him. After a recent dinner gathering with his owner Natasha Hsieh, we decided to head back to our home studio and take some portraits. Basil was a superb model and here are some highlights of that shoot.
I was trying to teach Basil how to operate the Kodak 2D and he got the hang of it quite quickly. Photo below entitled: “His master’s visage”.
In my last post, I wrote about the change of my travel gear. Recently I had an upgrade of my digital equipment as I had an important shoot. I did some research and finally settled on the Canon 5D Mark III. It was really between that and the Nikon D800 which my brother had been persuading me to get. Both machines are great and will be sufficient for me. It came down to lenses. Nikon did not make a pancake lens. Canon on the other hand made an excellent low costing yet high performance 40mm f2.8 lens. I wanted the new camera to be also used as an everyday camera and even a 50mm f1.8 lens on either of these cameras is proven bigger than what I wanted to bring to happy hour. I really loved my Canon QL17 which is also 40mm and it didn’t take much for me to steer onto that direction.
I also decided to get the stock 24-105mm f4 IS L lens which is an excellent lens for the money you paid when you purchase together with the 5D3. I figured, most of the photos that I will use this lens for involves architecture (infinity focus anyway) and group shots (more than 2 people so I would be using f5.6+ anyway). For detail bokeh work, I can use my 40mm f2.8 for now and get another prime after (say 50mm f1.4). One lens that I considered was the ever so popular 24-70mm f2.8. It was a lot of money for that piece of glass and I don’t see a lot of usage for it at this moment.
My first shoot was a big family birthday dinner and overall the shoot was successful. While tuning the photos after the shoot, I noticed my LCD screen’s color was way off. I took the dive and got the Datacolor Spyder. After calibration, the prints matched quite well with what I see on the screen now.
The second job was a lotophoto family shoot, which is what I love to do. The Yongnuo YN568 ETTL worked amazingly well with the 5d3, especially as a fill flash for the gloomy outdoor shoot. Indoors, I setup two Yongnuo YN560II flashes on remote triggers.
I really love this shot with Cailee, it’s such a lotophoto. In the old days without cell phones and digital cameras, parents will always take their children to a local photo studio to have these photos taken.
The first two sessions were a blast and I have to say that the Canon 5d3 worked as it promised. No wonder why this is one of the most preferred work horses for the digital photography world today.
For a while, my travel photo gears includes: Canon Powershot S90, Canon QL17 GIII + Canolite D flash and Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta B 532/16. The S90 serves as the all purpose camera, QL17 mainly for street photography and the Zeiss Ikon for portraits. For 135, I mainly use Kodak TriX 400, Fuji Xtra 400 and Agfa Vista 400. For 120, I use mainly Fuji Reala 100 which are excellent for portraits. All of these fits nicely in a small Crumpler camera bag.
Recently I went to Japan for a week and I was debating what to bring. I have upgraded to a Canon 5D Mark III recently and really wanted to try this out during this trip, but the sheer size of it gave me second thoughts. Since I am going for a week, the Zeiss Ikon also didn’t seem feasible. This medium format beauty can only produce 11 shots per roll, this means I will need to bring a dozen of 120s. Weight is not an issue, I am more worried about how the Fuji Reala will perform under hot temperature (30C+).
The final verdict, I took the dive and brought the 5D, along with the stock 24-105mm F4 L lens, 40mm F2.8 pancake lens and a Yongnuo YN-568EX flash. I decided to drop the Zeiss Ikon and brought the QL17 and S90.
I didn’t realize until I took the photo above that I have a complete Canon lineup. I swear that it wasn’t intentional, just happened that way. The S90 continued to perform well, especially for food closeup shots. I shot six rolls of Kodak Tri-X with the QL17 (awaiting for development). For the QL17, during the day, I often use a Kenko ND4 filter so I can use ISO 400 during the day. Nothing can beat the QL17 for street photography in my lineup, it’s small, non-intrusive, quiet and fast focusing. The 40mm F1.7 lens is perfect for that.
How did I find the 5D for traveling? It’s heavy but worth it. With the 40mm pancake lens, this is basically the same setup as my QL17 but with one huge advantage. That’s high ISO. I can shoot at up to ISO3200 without a lot of noise which makes this camera a winner for taking photos indoors and at night. The stock 24-105mm F4 L lens with IS gave a good working range for most travel shots, from architecture to far away objects. It is also quite a bit lighter than the 24-70mm F2.8 lens which makes this a bit more desirable for traveling. Did I need the flash? Yes! I actually used it often as a fill flash especially during late afternoon around sunset time.
All the equipment fitted in my Kata backpack. The new selection of travel gear added another few kilos compared to before but the 5D took beautiful photos and was worth it at the end.