Get The Best Out Of Your Tool

Hello Readers.

The Tool am talking is about digital camera – compact camera, mirrorless camera, DSLR camera etc. With the rapid advancement of technology over the last 5-10 years. Camera functions have improved dramatically since the day I picked up my first Sony compact camera back in 2003 from Cathay Photo. It was a 3.2mp point and shoot, costing me about S$600 during that time.

Fast forward to the current year. The photography industry continue to evolve. Currently in my arsenal, i am using a Canon 5D Mark III for my commercial work, a spare 5D Mark II. Especially the 5D Mark III have amazing features that i did not use at all. Paying the full bucks but only utilising half of the camera capabilities.

Basically, i am using the core function in the camera for the control of aperture, shutter speed and iso. The 5D Mk III camera obviously allows me to deliver high quality resolution image for industrial and corporate client who wanted to blow up the picture for office wall paper.

Nowadays, plenty of DSLR camera in the market offer a dual function capability. Not only does the camera can capture high quality images, but it produce HD video recording for filmmaker and videographer. I have to admit videography is not my interest at all. I did some recording but i did not want to do the editing because it require a bulk of time.

Then, i recently realised how oblivious i was in not consistently using some of the ‘delicious’ tools for my convenience. Such a waste right. Knowing my money was not well spent on the camera complexity.

Just to share, Canon 5D Mk III has this live view camera function for taking still image. For example, night photography. If the camera unable to focus on the spot i want. I can switch on the live view, set my lens to manual mode, through the live view to do a focus adjustment. I can also zoom in on the live view to have a better clarity on my focus. Gone are the good old days of doing manual focus through the viewfinder, which can be quite a struggle. Still, it doesn’t mean seeing through the viewfinder is a day of the past. No, peeping through the viewfinder still offer me a different perspective of the world.

In conclusion, explore and maximise your camera functions as many as possible. Camera manufacturer always gather user’s feedback in order to improve their next generation of product. So, have fun with your very expensive toy.

What to do with a new camera

What do you do with your newly purchased camera before your next big travel trip?

 

I recently accompanied my friend to purchase a new mirrorless camera for her upcoming travel trip. She went online to do research. Ask friends for recommendation, and finally decided what to get. On the day when there is a electronic exhibition. We went to the booth that was selling her ideal camera. On the ground, she tested it out to make sure she is comfortable with the grip and weight. The sales person is doing all the sales talk and what freebies are offering, finally convinced. She purchased her dream camera and was very happy about it. In fact I was excited for her as well!

 

Now you got a new camera, this little digital box is going to accompany your travel  journey to document your beautiful events in life. Tasty food you tasted, stunning scenery you saw, friendly people you met. Splendid.

 

What’s next? Bring your camera out for the travel trip and maybe struggle to use it, because you did not know how to use the camera functions and settings. Perhaps, end of the day saying this is a really lousy, indecent camera because you don’t know how to use it. In fact you did not even learn about your wonderful camera technology and the functionality in the first place.

 

Here are tips and preparation I am going to share before bringing your new camera out for travel trip.

 

  1. Bring the camera out to take plenty of pictures, like a 1000 pictures or as many as possible. Make the effort to look through the menu,  understand how the camera functions and setting work. Make adjustment what is best for you. Bring along the menu book for instance reference.
  2. You can learn all the terminology of your new camera but without putting it into practice, the process is going to be a bit more frustrating. So go out and practice, have fun with it.
  3. Understand the limitation of your camera. How far can your lenses zoom, how fast can your camera focus in different lighting conditions. All these will prepare you well for unexpected photography moments.
  4. Get a spare battery if you are going to have a long day of outing, battery consumption can be much faster than you thought.
  5. Extra memory cards, preferably another 16GB size. Don’t ever put all your eggs in one basket. Unless you are going to bring portable hard drive to back up.
  6. Get a sturdy tripod for night scene, do not get a tripod that have thin legs because it is cheap or pretty! It won’t be stable if the wind blow.

Photography equipment nightmare you wish it did not happen

There are many bad photography situations a photographer he/she would not even wish to encounter in a photo shoot. The simplest error or an indirect mistake can be a photographer’s worst nightmare! Or even losing a client. Believe me on that. With more than 10 years of professional photography experience in Singapore and various Asia countries, i compile a list of faults for you to take note.

Memory card images deleted
This happened only once, a decade ago, I accidentally “killed” all my travel images. I wondered how did the freak “accident” even happen. But it happened! Panic button pressed, called friends for help. Manage to get a free software and recovered 80% images. Imagine this happen in a client’s assignment, disastrous!

Advice
Do not fidget your “delete all” or “format” in your camera. Safest way is to switch off your camera when not in used. Purchased software to recover the images, but I think it is expensive and hardly use it. Store your memory card in a proper camera bag/CF card pouch. Do not leave it in the pocket or anywhere else.

Camera battery low power
Is a common problem for all electronic equipment. Especially with newer cameras that are equipped with better technology. The drainage of the battery power tends to be higher if the LCD screen is frequently use to review the images or filming a video. One time I was struggling with the battery power for only a 2hr photo shoot, using the same battery from a previous shoot. Without checking the battery power durability, it suddenly decrease below 20% when i checked! I was forced not to review my pictures, shoot less but quality pictures.

Advice
Use original battery instead of 3rd party battery, it does make a different. Also, prepare lots of spare batteries if is going to be a long day. It won’t kill your back to have some back up.

AA batteries out of power in flash light
Using previous set of batteries that were used in the last shoot. Resulting insufficient power to pull off the entire shoot. But it was never a problem for me. Because… read advice.

Advice
Use a fresh set of batteries for each event. Buy a battery tester to check the remaining voltage in the battery.

Tripod topple down
This is seriously no joke, with a camera mounted on the tripod is always considered a risk to me. I once did a private shoot for a client inside a 5 star hotel. The client booked a really expensive suite just for the event. I had a few assistants with me to assist. I placed my tripod properly with camera mounted. Briefed my assistant and client to be careful. During the break in the mist of the event, for the first time in my life I tripped onto my own tripod, I only can witnessed my 13 years old tripod toppled down, together with my camera. Luckily it landed on the carpet. God bless!! The only damage was my very expensive lens thread had a slight dent! Months later the camera was in trouble and I had to send it for repair before getting a new camera.

Advice
Ensure the tripod is stabilized before mounting the camera.
Make sure the tripod is able to handle the weight of your camera and lens. Especially heavy lenses like the Canon 70-200 f/2.8. Always double check! Do not trip onto your tripod legs!

Plenty of dust in sensor
Common problem every DSLR camera users will face. Dust can easily fly into the sensor when changing lenses, especially in outdoor condition. The dust in the sensor will offer you an ugly black dot, or if you are unlucky, many blacks dots appear the image. It is annoying and requires substantial amount of time to clean it up in Photoshop or Lightroom.

Advice
While changing your lenses, have your camera face down or against the wind. Invest in a good blower to blow off the dust trapped in sensor. Use the sensor cleaning option in your camera. Whatever works.

Camera error
Am using a Canon 5D series camera, I fear to see the word ERROR in my camera panel. They are a series of error codes when the camera is not working. I will start to sweat even in the coldest air con room, is really not a funny matter when client pay you and, you try not to screw it up. Reputation at stake!

Advice
Remove the battery and CF card then reinstall, or even remove the lens and gently clean the electrical contacts on the camera and lenses, pray it work. Worst case scenario head to the service center to get it repair. For professional, bring along a spare DSLR or a decent compact camera to back up. Stop complaining is heavy!

I hope my write up help you guys, precaution need to be taken in order to minimise unexpected situation to happen. Is always good to have plan B than no plan in order to enjoy photography.

Do share with me your thoughts about this, if you have other better solution than what I had offered, or even situation you come across and wish to share please let me know. I will be more than happy to share in my next blog.

Top 10 Compact Cameras for Travelers

Top 10 Compact Cameras for Travelers

A write up by National Geographic about the top 10 compact cameras. As everyone knows NG showcase the only best, and rawest images in the world. Am pretty sure these 10 cameras would selling off the shelves like a fresh cup of latte. Most importantly, these are fantastic cameras without crappy review for the sake of reviewing to boost sales.

Have fun reading this, while am back to work.

What i hope for for a new camera comes true – Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Finally, the long anticipated Canon 5D Mark III was finally introduced world wide. Am pretty sure most photographers are equally excited as me, pondering what is the new improvement Canon is going to announce. As usual there are many rumors from various forums talking about the new “secretive” product, chatters are gossiping about what they want and expect from the camera manufacturer. Said is easier than done i suppose. Is all the cheap thrill that makes it dramatic.

Here is the showcase of the new EOS 5D Mark III by Canon.

I remembered getting my 5D Mark II about 1.5 years later after it released, There’s a need to upgrade the camera as i need new technologies to cope with the new client’s base. I manage to sold it at a good price to fund for the latter.

After using the 5D Mark II for 4 years. As a professional photographer that works with the camera intensively day-in day-out, shooting various subjects in different circumstances and environment. I’ll long desired certain features that would be incorporated in the next generation of Mark III. Here is what i hope..

My dream specs for 5D Mark III
Maintain the mega pixels
5fps
More autofocus point
Better weather sealing

When i read the specs from 5D Mark III i was really overwhelmed. Is like Canon heard my voice and make such a wonderful product for my needs!

Canon EOS 5D Mark III – Key features:
22.3 Megapixel full-frame sensor
61-point autofocus
Up to 6fps continuous shooting
Native ISO 100-25,600 sensitivity (H1-51,200; H2-102,400)
Full HD video with manual control
14-bit DIGIC 5+ processor
Enhanced Weather sealing
8.11cm (3.2-inch) 1,040,000-dot screen
HDR mode with presets

The specs are close to what i want and is a cut above. Am so glad the megapixel was not further push up to 25mp or 30mp, as 21mp from 5D Mark II is a quite demanding at times to shoot at RAW mode.

New layout of the 5D Mark III exterior, it wouldn’t be hard to adapt it soon.

Probably i will get this beast about a year later, as my 5D Mark II still have a lot more room for capturing images. I feel i have yet to fully maximize it’s capabilities, yet.