How to Use a Canon Camera as a Webcam (Podcast 766)

How to Use a Canon Camera as a Webcam (Podcast 766)


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I’ve recently been using my Canon EOS R and EOS R5 for Zoom meetings as the image quality is so much better with the shallow depth of field, but as there are a few steps required to get this working, I figured I’d share what I do with you today. I do have a good Webcam, as well as the camera in my iMac Pro, which are both suitable for zoom, but sometimes I feel that it’s worth going a little further and using my Canon cameras. We’ll talk about the key components necessary to get started and move on to a few nice-to-haves as well.

Canon Webcam Utility

Of course, we’re going to assume that you already have a Canon camera, and I’ll center this discussion around what I know. If you own a different system and use different software, feel free to share that in the comments for the benefit of any other non-Canon users. To get started with a Canon camera though, you are going to need the EOS Webcam Utility which is available for both Mac and Windows. You can do this without the software, and we’ll touch on that, but there is an important reason for using the Canon software, and that is because it’s the only method I’ve found that completely stops the camera from falling asleep while you broadcast.

Once installed, there is no configuration, you’ll just find the EOS Webcam Utility listed as a camera for selection in Zoom or whatever system you are using. If you don’t see it, ensure that your camera is on and connected to the computer via USB. The Utility works with over 40 Canon cameras, and according to Canon also allows you to record your video internally in the camera while broadcasting. I’ve never needed to do this, but there are situations where that would be very useful.

EOS Webcam Utility in Zoom
EOS Webcam Utility in Zoom

Unfortunately, there seems to be no mechanism to switch between two EOS cameras. If you connect two cameras, the EOS Webcam Utility uses the first camera detected and ignores the second. If you switch the first camera off and select a different camera, then go back to the EOS Webcam Utility, you will be able to use the second camera, but it’s not exactly what I would consider a smooth switch.

Using Straight HDMI Signal

Before we move on, you can also see the option for the OBS Virtual Camera in this screenshot, which is what I would choose if I was using my video capture card that accepts HDMI signal and feeds it to my computer. This does enable me to use the HDMI signal from the camera, and if necessary, you can put an HDMI switcher between the camera and the video capture device, and that allows you to switch between multiple cameras, but this only really works if you are not going to use either camera without touching it for more than 30 minutes. There is no way that I’ve found to stop the camera from going to sleep while feeding out HDMI. The longest you can set the Power Off timer to is 30 minutes, so even if you disable the options to turn off the display after a certain time, the camera will go to sleep after 30 minutes.

Power Saving Settings
Power Saving Settings

Now, you can, of course, reach over and press the shutter button every so often to keep it awake, but I generally find that I forget to do that, and my video turns off, usually when I’m not looking. For this reason, I only use direct HDMI when I’m actually handling at least one of the cameras, such as when I’m showing a technique through the camera. Another important thing to note there as well, is that if you use the HDMI feed from the camera, you can set the camera up so that it includes the screen overlay in the HDMI feed as well, which is very useful in a teaching situation.

Canon EOS R5 Screen with Overlay
Canon EOS R5 Screen with Overlay

Note that to get the overlay displayed on your output HDMI, on the Canon EOS R5, you’ll need to go to the Shoot menu 8 and select HDMI display, then the next option seems a little confusing to me. The icon that shows both a camera and a computer display will prevent the camera’s settings from being displayed on the computer over HDMI. They are only displayed on the camera. If you select just the computer display icon though, the menus are displayed on both and are included in your HDMI feed.

I’m not aware of any combination of setting that will enable you to record the screen with controls when connected directly to the computer over USB. If you want to record the controls you’ll need a video capture device. The device I chose is from Basicolor and it seems they make a variety of these video capture devices. The price range is pretty wide, and generally increases with the resolution that the device is capable of passing through and feeding to the computer, and these are not always the same. They may be capable of passing through 4K video but only send 1080p resolution to the computer over USB. If you buy one of these ensure that you check the specs before you make your final decision.

Video Capture Device
Video Capture Device

Use a Power Adapter

Another consideration is power supply. I generally get about 50 minutes to an hour from a single battery when it’s constantly providing a video signal, so rather than interrupting your call or broadcast to pop your battery out, it’s better to use a power supply. I have two. One that provides power through the USB port, which is a Canon adapter and costs over $100. The second is virtually the same as the Canon ACK-E6 Adapter Kit which also retails for more than $100 but I broke down and grabbed a $20 adapter from Amazon.co.jp which seems at this point in time to do just as good a job. As you can see in this image, the ACK-E6 basically provides power through a mockup battery that is wired to the power supply.

Mockup Battery as Adapter
Mockup Battery as Adapter

There is a small rubber flap on the side of the battery compartment that you can bend outwards to feed the cable through so that you can go ahead and close the battery compartment while you’re using the camera.

Battery Adapter Cable Opening
Battery Adapter Cable Opening

Autofocus with Face Detection On

You’ll need to put the camera into video mode, which you do on the Canon EOS R5 by pressing the Mode button followed by the Info button, and by default, this will put the EOS R5 into Movie Servo AF mode. I also like to check that Face Detection mode is selected, so that the camera will follow you as you move around the screen. This is especially important when you select a wide aperture as the depth of field is so shallow that you’ll quickly go out of focus if you move away from the plane of focus. On the EOS R5 the easiest way to get into Face Detection autofocus mode is to his the Focus Point Selection button in the top right corner on the back of the camera, and then hit the M-Fn button next to the shutter button until the Face icon is selected, as you see in this screenshot. In this mode, the camera will do a great job of keeping your eyes in focus as you move around.

Face Detection Autofocus
Face Detection Autofocus

Auto-ISO

I also find it useful to turn on Auto-ISO while shooting video for streaming as this will keep you relatively well exposed, even if the light changes. I sometimes use an LED video light if I’m streaming after dark, but during the day, if I have my curtains open, the camera still does a great job of getting my face bright. My other dedicated webcams can’t do this. They just go supernova on the light from the window and I go into silhouette. This is another reason why I like to use the EOS Webcam instead of my regular webcams.

Using an External Monitor

You can also use an external monitor if you have one, and I find this especially useful as it forces you to look towards the camera as you check your appearance, and that is good for staying engaged with the people on the other end of the call or meeting. Here I shot a quick photo of my setup with my video monitor attached to the flash shoe of the EOS R5 but pointing forwards so that I can see myself as I stream.

Canon EOS Webcam with Monitor
Canon EOS Webcam with Monitor

Another thing that I generally do is move my display as close to the line of sight of the camera as possible, and then put my zoom screen in the corner of the computer display, and make it as small as possible, so that I am forced to look close to the camera while speaking. Your line of sight still goes away from the viewer though, so when I want to virtually make eye contact, I look directly at the lens of the camera.

It’s not a great photo, but you can also see that the background of my video is significantly out of focus due to the shallow depth of field of the camera. When using my 50mm F/1.2 lens I like to open it up completely for super-shallow depth of field. This looks so much better in a streamed event than having everything tack-sharp, which is, of course, what happens when using the small sensors in regular webcams.

There are benefits to dedicated webcams, of course. They are easy to set up and because they are so small or even embedded into the computer just above the screen, it’s easier to get close to the line of sight of your viewers. There are also some high-end webcams that will follow you around if you stand up and move around, as you might in a product demonstration or presentation. I still use my regular webcams for casual calls and meetings, but when I want to provide professional-looking video, like when teaching at events and camera clubs, I take a few minutes to set up a Canon camera, or two, to make a good impression. We’ll wrap it up there for today. I hope you find this useful. If you do, please consider supporting the podcast as well as gaining access to a range of other benefits by joining our Patreon community. Thanks very much to Christian and Blazej, our latest contributors, and to the others that are already helping to keep the wheels on the MBP Wagon.


Show Notes

EOS Webcam Utility for Mac and Windows: https://www.usa.canon.com/internet/portal/us/home/support/self-help-center/eos-webcam-utility

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens Review (Podcast 717)

Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens Review (Podcast 717)


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I picked up my Canon RF 100-500mm F/4.5-7.1 L lens on August 27, the day it was released into the wild, and I’ve spent the last few days putting it through its paces, although the oppressive Tokyo heat has held me back to a degree. I like to ensure that my gear is insured before using it outside, as I’ve actually dropped a camera body in a river before, and don’t want to take any chances, so I had to get that sorted out first but then waited for it to cool down a little on Friday the 28th, before heading out to the river down the road from where I live to see what I could find.

We’ll take a look at some of my photos shortly, but first I’d like to touch on some of the key points of this wonderful new lens from Canon. First of all, the biggest change for a lens with this positioning is, of course, the increase in the zoom range, from 400mm to 500mm. It was this new increased range that made me decide to sell my 200-400mm lens with the 1.4X Extender built-in, as well as financial considerations. With business being the way it is right now, I simply couldn’t have afforded to make all of the recent changes I’ve made without setting that beast of a lens, but I honestly don’t think it’s necessary anymore, with this new offering in my kit bag.

Canon RF 100-500mm Compared with EF 100-400mm Mark II Lens
Canon RF 100-500mm Compared with EF 100-400mm Mark II Lens

I photographed the R5 with the 100-400mm on it the day before I part exchanged the 100-400mm for the 100-500mm, and I left my tripod out and marked the background paper so that I could place the 100-500mm on the right, and shoot a second shot to merge together for comparison. You can see that the RF lens is slightly smaller than the EF lens with the Control Ring Adapter. Despite the extra 100mm reach, the RF 100-500mm is 1,370g without the tripod ring, compared to 1,530g for the EF 100-400mm lens, also without the tripod ring, so the 100-500mm is 160g lighter and slightly shorter than the 100-400mm, although Canon is claiming a 200g difference for some reason.

Extender Zoom Restrictions

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the only slightly negative aspect of the 100-500mm is that it is restricted to a widest focal length of 300mm when used with either of the new RF mount Extenders. As you can see in the following image, the rubber-coated lens element protruding out of the Extenders prevents the back element of the lens from moving to back to its full extent. This means that instead of a 200-1000mm lens with the 2X Extender, we get a 600-1000mm lens, and with the 1.4X Extender, we’re looking at a 420-700mm lens. This does reduce the versatility of the lens when combined with the Extenders and was a bit of a disappointment, but this is the first time that the shorter distance between the back of the lens and the sensor has added a negative aspect to Canon’s RF Mount and Mirrorless line-up.

2X Extender and Back of RF 100-500mm Lens
2X Extender and Back of RF 100-500mm Lens

Although this should have been obvious, I also didn’t really think about the fact that the lens would be locked in an extended position while the Extenders are fitted. Here are two photos, one with each Extender fitted, showing the shortest focal length that the lens can be pulled back to with each of the Extenders. I’m also still trying to find out if there is a mechanical stopper that prevents the lens from going under 300mm or if the Extender is physically butting up against that back element. I’m hoping there is a mechanical stopper, as that would make me more comfortable stowing the lens away with the Extender fitted, but if it’s elements bashing together, I would not be comfortable putting this combination into my bag.

These are my only concerns though, and I’ll certainly live with this for the versatility of this lens. Having the ability to shoot at up to 1000mm with such a small system is very welcome.

One last physical difference between the RF 100-500mm and the EF 100-400mm lens is that the hood is now white, so it matches the body of the lens much better, and although purely cosmetic, the case that comes with the 100-500mm has also switched from white to black. I think I would have preferred white simply because it doesn’t get as warm as a black case in strong sunlight, but for me, I actually never use the case anyway. I pretty much always just put the lens into my camera bag, or sling it over my shoulder attached to a camera, as long as I don’t have to walk on a slippy surface.

Canon RF 100-500mm Lens with Hood and Case
Canon RF 100-500mm Lens with Hood and Case

Aperture Decrease Points

As you’ll have noticed from the name of the lens, the widest available aperture gradually decreases as you zoom the lens. Starting at f/4.5 at 100mm, this drops to f/5.0 at 150mm, then f/5.6 at 280mm, F/6.3 at 370mm and the smallest aperture of f/7.1 starts from 460mm and, of course, remains at 7.1 up to the maximum focal length of 500mm. The widest aperture available at 300mm is f/5.6 and this remains in place with the Extenders fitted, so the widest available aperture with the RF 1.4X Extender fitted is f/8, with an effective focal length of 420mm, and that transitions through f/9 to f/10 once you zoom to the maximum effective focal length of 700mm. With the RF 2X Extender fitted, you get f/11, dropping to f/14 as the widest aperture at the longest focal length of 1000mm.

The Moon

The image quality is pretty much unchanged with no real visible degradation when working with the Extenders. Here is a photograph of the Moon shot on a humid summer night here in Tokyo, so there was a large halo around the Moon, but the photo is still nice and sharp. This is quite heavily cropped, down to an image of around 17 megapixels, so that you can see and appreciate the detail. I increased the ISO to 1250 for this shot with a shutter speed of 1/160 of a second at f/14, which is the widest aperture available at 1000mm.

The Moon at 1000mm
The Moon at 1000mm

This was actually the last outdoor test shot that I made to share with you, so let’s back-pedal a little now and I’ll walk you through a number of images that I was able to get as I tried to put this lens through its paces. Unfortunately, the oppressive heat of Tokyo at this time of year, and the fact that we are having a bit of a heatwave on top of that, has meant that both the wildlife and me couldn’t spend much time in the sun. The day after I got the lens, I took it up to the river a 10-minute walk from my apartment, hoping to see some Black Eared Kites, and maybe also some Egret, but it turned out to be a case of Mad-Dogs and Englishman. I was the only living being out there, except from one Egret that came to the river for a drink, and then promptly flew away again. It was on the far bank, so even at 1000mm was too far to photograph with any impact.

I shot some insects, all with the 2X Extender and the lens at its full extent of 1000mm. These aren’t great, because of the surroundings, but it will give you an idea of the image quality and show that this lens can actually be used in the macro range, so first, here is a butterfly shot.

Cabbage White Butterfly
Cabbage White Butterfly

Here also is a Dragonfly, also at 1000mm, and the detail at the base of its wings is absolutely stunning, even when using the 2X Extender and the lens at full extent. I didn’t expect to see any real image degradation when using these Extenders with the 100-500mm, but it’s certainly nice to get that confirmed first hand.

Dragonfly
Dragonfly

Scraping the barrel a little, here is a shot of a Water Strider insect, that I actually don’t dislike. It’s great to see the water bending under the weight of the Strider, but also be able to see how the surface tension is keeping him afloat. Again, shot at 1000mm and has beautiful image quality. These shots were all made hand-held by the way. Also, don’t forget that you can click on the images to open them up in the Lightbox and view the shooting information below the image.

Water Strider
Water Strider

Fledgling Barn Swallows

After a few hours, I was drenched in sweat and needed to leave to avoid getting heatstroke, but then as I got to my apartment, I noticed three Barn Swallow fledglings on the telegraph wire over a stream that runs by the building. Their parents were busily catching beaks full of bugs from over the stream and then flew back to the fledglings who, although already larger than their parents, opened their mouths wide to accept the buggy meal before the parent flew off to catch some more. Here is a photo as the parent swallow flies away and the fledgling tries to swallow its new mouthful of bugs.

Barn Swallow Parent Flying Away After Feeding Fledgling
Barn Swallow Parent Flying Away After Feeding Fledgling

I was impressed with the way the autofocus of EOS R5 and 100-500mm lens stayed with the parent as they dropped down off the telegraph wire and started to fly away. You can see that the fledgling is already out of focus in this shot. I’ve been asked about the smaller aperture compared to the 100-400mm, but really, the depth of field is so shallow at these focal lengths that you have to be stopped down to get anything sharp anyway, so it really isn’t a problem. I am cranking up the ISO quite a bit though to get these shots. Although this was shot at ISO 6400 and a shutter speed of 1/3200 a second, as it got darker and I increased my shutter speed I ended up shooting at 12800 ISO as well, but the images all still look pretty good.

Dragonflies In Flight

The following day, I visited a local botanical garden’s water-plant zone, hoping to photograph some Kingfisher, but it’s too hot for them again, as we go through a particularly hot spell, so once again there wasn’t really any bird action for me to shoot. As I waited for the Kingfisher that would ultimately not show, I realized that there were enough dragonflies buzzing around to try my hand at photographing them in flight. I’ve tried this a number of times in the past, and could never focus on them.

At first, I left my autofocus settings the same as those which I showed you in my video showing my settings that I included in the Canon EOS R5 review, but trying to use a single focus point to focus on a small insect flying erratically and always completely out of focus because of the shallow depth of field, was simply not possible. I quickly tried using a cluster of focus points but was instantly reminded of why I dislike this autofocus mode, and it was still not possible to focus, so I pulled all the way back to full Auto, where the camera decides what to focus on. You don’t have any visible focus points to start with.

EOS R5 Autofocus Settings for the Dragonfly
EOS R5 Autofocus Settings for the Dragonfly

So, in this photo of my settings screen, which you’ll find under menu AF5, you see the setting that I usually use highlighted in light blue and the Auto setting that I selected for the Dragonfly selected with the pink border here. I went straight back to my usual setting afterward, and that’s why I also registered this setting in My Menu, so that I can quickly get back to it as and when necessary.

I got a number of shots of the Dragonfly in flight, but here are a few that I’m particularly happy with, and once again, I’ve never been able to get this kind of shot in the past, so I put this down to the EOS R5’s improved autofocus and the speed at which the RF 100-500mm can focus, even with the 1.4X Extender fitted, which is what I was using to shoot these images. Note though that I did have to pull back a little to give myself a chance to get this guy in the frame, so the effective focal length was actually 480mm, so I could have removed the 1.4X Extender for this shot.

Lesser Emperor Dragonfly in Flight
Lesser Emperor Dragonfly in Flight

I love how this looks like an X-Wing out of Star Wars! Also note that the pale blue background of this shot is water, not the sky, and that is why you can perhaps make out some small round lighter areas. These are sunlight reflecting off the water but really out of focus.

Here is a second shot of the Lesser Emperor Dragonfly, this time over a textured background of the foliage reflected in the water. I’m completely impressed that the EOS R5 and 100-500mm lens are able to pick out and focus on a very fast and erratically moving dragonfly the way that it did.

Lesser Emperor Dragonfly in Flight Over Reflected Foliage
Lesser Emperor Dragonfly in Flight Over Reflected Foliage

So, no bird shots other than the Swallow image which doesn’t really count, but I’ll keep trying and report back as time allows. I’m sure you’ll agree though that as a test of the autofocus capabilities, these last few shots are pretty impressive.

No More Stroboscopic Subjects!

One thing that I promised to report back on in my EOS R5 review is how much smoother the electronic viewfinder is for real-life subjects, because the EOS R, even with the best settings I was able to find, used to present you with a kind of stroboscopic view of the subjects when shooting in bursts, and at times it made it difficult to track moving subjects. Well, I’m happy to report that this is no longer a problem. With the Electronic shutter, there is no interruption in the signal. It’s so smooth it’s actually difficult to tell that you are exposing frames at all. And with the mechanical shutter, it’s still very smooth. I can’t recall ever seeing the shutter in motion as I shot over the last few days.

The White-Tailed Skimmer Video

The various ponds at the garden I visited attract the White-Tailed Skimmer Dragonfly in larger numbers than the Lesser Emperor that I got the flight photos of. The Skimmers are pretty common here and I believe are gradually spreading as far west from Japan as Eastern Europe. They tend to hang around on the stems of reeds quite a lot, so as a test of the 120 frames per second 4K video, I grabbed a number of minutes of footage, all shot hand-held although I was often resting on posts and things, but at mostly 700mm, I was very impressed with the stability of the video.

From what I have been able to find on the web, it would seem that the RF 100-500mm gets around 5 stops of image stabilization from the lens and in-body image stabilization, but this footage looks better than that, although that’s probably because it was shot at 120 fps, so you’re only seeing 25% of the camera shake that was introduced anyway.

Note too that I had not realized that you can’t record audio when shooting at 120 frames per second, and I did not have any audio equipment with me, so you’ll have to put up with my new track “Nostalgia” as the backing the music. This is the same music that I started using in the podcast a few weeks ago, but the full version, because the length of the track perfectly matched the length of the video that I ended up with.

A Word of Caution

One thing that I would like to mention before we move on, is that I found that sometimes with very fast moving close-by subjects, that I had to drop back to the 1.4X Extender just to be able to frame the subject. I’m pretty good at aligning my camera when zoomed to 400 or 500mm, as you’ll have noticed from my tightly frame sea eagle shots that I share each year, but things like the dragonflies flitting around were very difficult to frame up, even with the 1.4X Extender. The 2X Extender will probably be more suited for more distant subjects, simply because we then get more depth of field, so you can see the scene better to focus, and the amount of the scene in your frame increases as the distance to subject increases.

Thankfully though, because the R5 is 45 megapixels, we also have a little more freedom to crop, which helps with small or distant subjects that don’t fill the frame. For larger birds, like the Red-Crowned Cranes and Sea Eagles that I love to shoot, I am really looking forward to working with them with just the 100-500mm but do also sometimes need a bit more reach when the cranes are a way off, so the Extenders will come in useful then too. Basically, the Extenders are necessary, and a welcome addition, but I want you to be aware that it sure can become a lot of lens to try to frame up a close-by, and with fast moving subject.

Resolution Test Chart Shots

To finish, I’ll share a number of shots of a resolution test chart at some of the key focal lengths and apertures, both with and without the Extenders. The results of these tests are now so good with Canon RF lenses that I’m almost ready to just stop including this test in my review, but I think it’s still worth it, just to prove how good the resolution of this system is across the range, and especially when using Extenders. I’ve included details of the focal length, aperture and extender in the caption for this image, so click on them to open them in the Lightbox to see for yourself.

Also note that I was only able to include the full chart up to around 600mm due to lack of space in my studio, so the image does get larger as I add extenders and zoom etc. Note too that I have cropped out the center of the test shots at 100% so that you can see the detail. Including a resized version of the entire image would not show you anything other than what the chart looks like.

Chromatic Aberration from 700mm

I did notice a little bit of Chromatic Aberration creeping in in the corner of the image from around 700mm with the 1.4X Extender and when using the 2X Extender. This is only in the corners, and even without a lens profile, the Chromatic Aberration Lens Correction in Capture One Pro removes this instantly, so it’s not something to worry about. This screenshot is from the top left corner of the 1000mm f/14 photograph, shot with the 2X Extender, but as you can see it disappears with lens correction Chromatic Aberration turned on.

Removing Chromatic Aberration
Removing Chromatic Aberration

OK, so I think we’ll start to wrap it up there for now. I will report back as I continue to shoot with both the R5 and the 100-500mm lens. At this point, it’s still not clear whether my Winter tours will be able to proceed or not next year, and we are still being asked to stay in Tokyo, because we have a higher concentration of corona virus patients than other prefectures, but as soon as these restrictions are lifted, I’ll jump in my car and get somewhere that has some decent wildlife and jump back into this.

Conclusion

As with the EOS R5 that I also reviewed recently, the 100-500mm lens is probably one of the best lenses that Canon has ever made. It’s not perfect, with a touch of Chromatic Aberration when using the Extenders, and being locked at a widest focal length of 300mm when using the Extenders isn’t ideal either, but for the image quality and versatility that it does bring, I can absolutely live with these tiny inconveniences.

I would like to say in closing, that I have never been happier to be a Canon user. I realize that there are other systems out there that are making good advances as well, but my preference has always been Canon, and that makes it a natural progression to stay with them, but I do get a chance to look at other systems on my workshops, and I can honestly say that none of them are as attractive to me as Canon’s current line-up.

As I also mentioned in my recent EOS R5 review, I believe that it is the best camera Canon has ever made, and the RF 100-500mm is an amazing addition to the line-up. It’s sharp, hand-holdable with a huge range, and with the RF Extenders gives me enough reach that I will simply never regret having to part with my 200-400mm lens to help with the purchase. I have a second EOS R5 on order, although I hear it may be months now before that arrives.

When I consider that my gear bag will comprise of just three lenses and two bodies and two Extenders now to get me from 15 to 1000 mm, it makes traveling, both logistically and physically, so much easier than just 7 or 8 years ago. For wildlife work back then I was lugging around two full-sized bodies with vertical grips, a 14mm lens, a 16-35mm lens, and a 24-105mm lens, and then the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens and Extenders, and a 300mm f/2.8 and a 600mm f/4 lens. My bag weighed a ton and with the tightened weight restrictions on international flights now, there is no way I’d get all of that overseas, and I honestly don’t think I could carry it all now anyway, definitely not for a full day. So, a huge thumbs up on this latest influx of gear from Canon!

If you are still concerned about jumping to a mirrorless camera system, don’t be. The R5 no longer handles like a Mirrorless camera. This is what I was holding off for, for the past five years or so. The EOS R was a great introduction, and it was the RF mount that got me sold on that camera and starting me selling my EF lenses. Now, the system is perfect, and in almost every respect now better than the DSLRs I’ve owned over the years.

Affiliate Links

As always, if you have found the information I shared here useful, please consider using our affiliate links below when placing your order from B&H Photo. Also, note that no third party has provided any gear to enable me to write this review. I bought everything I have mentioned today with my own hard-earned yen, and everything that I have relayed to you is my own unbiased opinion.

Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM Lens – https://mbp.ac/100-500

Canon EOS R5 Body – https://mbp.ac/EOSR5

Canon LP-E6NH Battery – https://mbp.ac/lp-e6nh

Canon EOS RF 24-105mm f/4L Lens – https://mbp.ac/rf24-105

Canon RF 50mm f1.2L USM Lens – https://mbp.ac/RF50mm
Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens – https://mbp.ac/15-35

The Moon Video

A few days after I released this review, I made the time to pull together the video footage that I shot of the Moon at 8K but downsampled to 4K for the video, and I quickly created a backing track. By quickly, I mean, it’s a 12:30 track, and it took me about 13:30 to create, but it’s better than silence, I hope. Anyway, go full screen on this and enjoy the detail in the Moon. Note that some of the juddering of the moon is from heat shimmer, but there is also a little movement in our apartment, and the camera moves slightly as I stepped off of our balcony to go and grab a shower while the video ran.


Show Notes

Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM Lens – https://mbp.ac/100-500

Dragonfly video: https://vimeo.com/452959987

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Canon 24-105mm EF and RF Mount Lenses Compared (Podcast 671)

Canon 24-105mm EF and RF Mount Lenses Compared (Podcast 671)

A few months ago I used two images of the same scene to compare how well the Canon EOS R images at 30 megapixels would print, compared to the 50 megapixel Canon EOS 5Ds R camera. For these tests, the results of which you can see in episode 660, I had the EF 24-105mm lens on my 5Ds R and the new RF 24-105mm lens on my EOS R. I was surprised to see that the image quality from the EOS R was so good and that that lower resolution images could actually be printed as large as the higher resolution images and actually looked a little better!

Since doing these tests though, I started to wonder how sharp the EF 24-105mm F/4 Mark II lens would be when mounted on the EOS R using the Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter, so this week, I’ve done a few tests, pitching the EF 24-105mm lens against the RF 24-105mm lens, but this time both on the Canon EOS R. A few people have asked me about this as well, and I’m sure there will be some people out there that are using the EF 24-105mm lens via the mount adapter and wondering if it’s worth switching. Value and worth are very subjective, so I’m not going to tell you what to do, but the results of my tests will give you everything you need to know about the difference in sharpness so that you can make up your own mind about this.

About the Tests

For the test, to keep things equal between frames, I set up my camera on a tripod and photographed a printed test chart attached to my whiteboard. I turned Image Stabilization off for all of these images so that it didn’t wiggle anything around as the exposures were captured and I shot three sets of images with each lens. The first set that we’ll look at was shot at 24mm, the widest focal length of these lenses, then the second set at 50mm, almost in the middle, and a final set at 105mm, which is the longest focal length of these lenses.

Below is an iPhone photo of my set-up, as I shot the 105mm focal length set. You’ll see that I was also using a studio light with a softbox to light the test chart. I left the ISO at 100 and the shutter speed at 1/200 of a second for all of the images, and I adjusted the exposure by making the studio light brighter as I increased through the aperture stops. This way we are able to rule out ISO and shutter speed as a reason for any differences between the images because these settings were the same for all 36 test shots. It also helps us to rule out camera shake, because the studio light’s burst is way faster than the shutter speed, so I’d literally have needed to swing the camera around on its strap to get any camera shake. OK, so a slight exaggeration there, but you know what I mean.

EF_RF_Lens_Shootout

Note too that I moved the camera back and forth so that I could just about fill the frame with the test chart at all three focal lengths. The RF lens has a slightly shorter minimum focus distance than the EF lens, so I had to pull back slightly from the minimum focus distance of the RF lens to ensure that the EF lens could focus on the chart.

EF 24-105mm Lens @ 24mm (Center)

So, here first are six images which cover the entire aperture range in full stops using the EF lens, so we start wide open at f/4, then move through f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, and down to the smallest aperture for both lenses, which is f/22. This first batch is shot at the widest focal length which is of course 24mm.

All of these images have been cropped down to 1440 x 960-pixel images at 100%, so if you ensure that your browser window is wide enough and then click the images, you will be able to see the image at its full resolution.

You’ll notice that the EF 24-105mm lens is pretty sharp at 24mm from wide open at f/4 through to f/16, and you will probably be able to detect just a little bit of softness caused by diffraction as we stop down to the smallest aperture of f/22.

RF 24-105mm Lens @ 24mm (Center)

Here now are the same six apertures but using the RF 24-105mm f/4 lens. Again, open them up in the lightbox to view the difference. Note that the images aren’t aligned perfectly because the EF 24-105mm lens actually has a slightly longer focal length, despite them sporting the same numbers, and it is really not that important for the images to be aligned for this test.

I think you’ll agree that at 24mm the images from the RF lens are incredibly sharp from f/4 to f/16, and there is a little bit, but slightly less diffraction kicking in at f/22.

To enable us to make a direct comparison, here now is another group of images, which are the same images that we looked at above, but I’ve alternated the EF and RF lenses so that you can make a direct comparison.

At 24mm though, I think it’s safe to say that there is very little difference between the EF and the RF lenses. They both perform admirably throughout the entire aperture range.

EF 24-105mm Lens @ 50mm (Center)

Here now is the EF lens at 50mm, again, showing the center of the image, just from further away, and zoomed in to 50mm.

I was actually surprised by how soft the EF lens is wide open at f/4, and I think I can also detect diffraction starting to kick in from f/11 and very slightly worse through f/16 to f/22. It’s not a huge amount, but usually, it’s the extremes of the zoom range that suffer, not the middle of the range, so this was surprising for me.

RF 24-105mm Lens @ 50mm (Center)

Here too is the RF lens at 50mm, for comparison.

Once again I think you’ll agree that it’s sharper throughout the entire aperture range, and there is just a tiny bit of diffraction at f/22, but otherwise it’s tack-sharp.

EF 24-105mm Lens @ 105mm (Center)

Now let’s move on to the longest focal length of 105mm. The long end of a lens is usually where the image quality suffers the most.

Again though, the EF 24-105mm breaks the rules, as it is tack-sharp throughout the range, with just a tiny bit of diffraction at f/22.

RF 24-105mm Lens @ 105mm (Center)

And to finish this group of images showing you the image quality at the center of the lens, here is our RF lens at 105mm.

I was very surprised to see that at 105mm when the lens is wide open at f/4, it’s a complete mess. The first image in that batch is so bad that I ran my tests again, thinking that I’d made a mistake, but the results were identical, so it’s official. At least my copy of the RF 24-105mm lens is crap wide open at its longest focal length. I’m pleased it’s as sharp as it is elsewhere and when stopped down, but I need to keep in mind to stop this lens down a little when shooting at 105mm to avoid that soft spot. In fact, I’m going to seriously consider having Canon take a look at this lens while it’s still under warranty.

Bottom Left Corner Comparison

In this next set, I have cropped out a 1440 x 960-pixel section of the image to see how the image quality fairs in the bottom left-hand corner. This is a great way to see how much the image quality degrades as you move away from the predominantly much sharper center of the lens.

EF 24-105mm Lens @ 24mm (Corner)

I’ve stuck to the same groupings, starting with the EF lens at 24mm through all of the full aperture stops.

I can see a little bit of color aberration or fringing at f/4, and a bit less but still see it at f/5.6, but it pretty much clears up by f/8 and the image doesn’t really degrade much again, even at f/22, where the diffraction is almost undetectable.

RF 24-105mm Lens @ 24mm (Corner)

The RF lens is up again next, through the same full stop aperture range.

This is again pretty amazing, especially for the corner of the images with the lens wide open. The sharpness is there until a tiny bit of diffraction kicks in at f/22 but I really can’t see any fringing or color aberrations to speak of, so that’s great!

EF 24-105mm Lens @ 50mm (Corner)

The EF lens starts off pretty nasty at 50mm not really sharpening up in the corners until f/11, but then it stays sharp and doesn’t really suffer from diffraction even at f/22.

RF 24-105mm Lens @ 50mm (Corner)

At f/4 on the RF lens at 50mm it’s a bit soft again, but it sharpens up nicely from f/5.6 and then just has a touch of diffraction at f/22.

EF 24-105mm Lens @ 105mm (Corner)

Despite the amazing performance of the EF lens in the center at 105mm, it doesn’t really settle down until f/11 in the corner, but then it’s nice and sharp again and diffraction isn’t an issue.

RF 24-105mm Lens @ 105mm (Corner)

I’d have been amazed if the RF lens was sharp in the corner at f/4 when zoomed in to 105mm after the poor image quality that we saw in the middle, but it actually doesn’t drop off very much at all, which is a bit of a bonus. It does sharpen up nicely at f/5.6 and shows only minor diffraction at f/22.

Conclusion

OK, so I hope you found this useful if you are interested in the difference between these two lenses when both are used on the EOS R. Note that there was no processing done to the images other than the default sharpening that Capture One Pro applies to all images.

The RF 24-105mm is definitely sharper overall, but with a surprising result at f/4 when zoomed right in to 105mm. I’m also thinking that the EF 24-105mm lens gave some very solid results, showing that it’s a top-class lens even when used with a mount adapter on the new RF mount camera system.

I personally made my decision to buy the new RF 24-105mm f/4 lens, based not only on my expectations that it would be a little sharper, but also based on the size. As I mentioned in my review of the EOS R, and as you can see in the below image, the EOS R with the RF 24-105mm is significantly smaller than the 5Ds R and the EF 24-105mm lens. When you mount the EF lens with the mount adapter, it greatly increases the overall size of the system, and it was important for me to keep this all at a minimum.

5Ds R (Left) with EOS R (right) and 24-105mm lenses
5Ds R (Left) with EOS R (right) and 24-105mm lenses

If you would like to test any of your own lenses like this, the chart I was using is from the Cornell University and you can download a copy of the PDF here. And indeed, if anyone with an EOS R and the RF 24-105mm lens decided to run these tests, please do let me know if you see the same poor image quality that I see at f/4 and 105mm. I’d be interested to hear what you find.


Show Notes

You can get a copy of the test chart I used here: https://www.graphics.cornell.edu/~westin/misc/res-chart.html

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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What’s in the Travel Photography Bag (Podcast 639)

What’s in the Travel Photography Bag (Podcast 639)

As I prepare to leave for this year’s Morocco tour in a few hours, I thought I’d share what I’m taking in my photography bag for this travel photography trip.

Martin's 18L Gura Gear Bataflae Camera Bag with RRS Tripod
Martin’s 18L Gura Gear Bataflae Camera Bag with RRS Tripod

On my Morocco tour, we’ll be photographing a good mix of cultural travel photographs, landscape, and environmental portraits. I checked and see that the last time I did a What’s in the Bag episode was 2013 and the last time I opened up the gear to show you an itemized list was 2011 in Episode 315.

That was for Nature and Wildlife, so I had my 600mm lens included. Nowadays, that would be my 200-400mm lens with the 1.4X Extender built-in, but that is really all I add to the gear that I’ll share today, so it’s impressive how much I’ve been able to shrink my gear down.

First, here is a photo of my bag as I walk around with it, and you can see that because all of my gear now fits inside an 18-liter bag, my tripod looks a bit ungainly clinking to the side. When walking through crowded streets I tend to either leave the tripod in our vehicle or leave the entire bag, and just take one camera with the 24-105mm f/4 lens attached, and maybe have my 85mm lens and/or 11-24mm lens in my vest pockets.

The tripod here is my Really Right Stuff TVC-34L with a Leveling Base and BH-55 ball-head. I have a slightly lighter Really Right Stuff tripod with the smaller BH-40 head, but I have to admit that I generally now only use that as a second tripod when I’m traveling by car domestically. It’s sturdy enough for long exposures etc. but I really like the extra leg height of the TVC-34L tripod, and the BH-55 ball-head is just such a pleasure to work with that I find myself reaching for the combination in this photograph whenever I’m only going to take one tripod with me.

Martin's Travel Camera Bag Packed
Martin’s Travel Camera Bag Packed

Here is the bag open, to give you an idea of how I lay it out. Thinking about it, this is actually what I took to Namibia this year, except I also packed the 2.0X Extender as we were doing Wildlife work as well, but that is the only difference.

I’ll go through and detail each item shortly, but for now, I’d like to mention that also in the past I tried to break my cameras down, removing the lens from the body while traveling to my location, I no longer do that with this camera bag, because it makes it difficult to fit everything in, in a sensible way. I do break the second body down though, as you can see.

Also note that I will move that air blower to my vest pocket and put the Peak Design straps on at least one of my two bodies once I get to my location. I like to leave the straps in their pouches as I travel so that the metal parts on them don’t rub against my gear, possibly marking it.

Even attached though, I can lay the strap across the top in a way that the metal doesn’t touch anything, but I don’t like to leave it like that for my international flights etc.

Note too that I also travel with a Zoom H1n digital audio recorder, which you can see in its black case at the bottom of the left compartment that also has my straps in here. I used to use the Zoom H6 digital recorder, and still do for some purposes, but the H1n is really small and light, and the audio quality is awesome, like it’s big brother.

I actually just really like recording the sound of things around us. I’m fascinated by sound almost as much as I am by the photograph. For example here is a lightning strike that I recorded during a summer storm earlier this year. I love the volume of information that is incuded in this clip and how it gradually reduces over time. it almost feels like a beautiful full histogram, peaked on the right shoulder then fading towards the left edge.

You can see the Zoom H1n out of the case marked with the number 1 in this next image. The camera bodies are both Canon EOS 5Ds R cameras. These have proved to be incredible cameras in the three years since they were released, and I have used just these two bodies for not only Landscape work, but portraiture in dark conditions and all of my Wildlife work. People said that a camera with this much resolution would be for still life and landscape only, and would always need to be used on a tripod. It’s given me great pleasure to blow all of those myths clean out of the water.

Martin's Travel Gear out of the Bag
Martin’s Travel Gear out of the Bag

Number 4 in the photo is my Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L lens. The release of this lens enabled me to sell my 14mm prime and 16-35mm lenses, downsizing my kit by one lens, although the 11-24mm is a pretty big chunk of glass, so it wasn’t a huge saving weight-wise.

Number 5 is the Canon EF 100-400mm Mark II L lens. This lens has enabled me to stop taking both the 200-400mm and my 70-200mm lenses, especially when traveling overseas. I really only use the big 200-400mm lens for domestic wildlife work now. The 100-400mm is about as heavy as the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens but it’s as sharp as they come across its entire zoom range, so it really is an incredibly versatile lens.

In front of that, number 6 is my Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L Mark II lens. Before this was released I spent a year or two using the 100-400 and my old 24-70mm lens, and although it worked well, I did miss not having the 30mm between the two lenses, and this 24-105mm bridged that gap. All of my lenses are as sharp as tacks, so it’s not really worth noting each time.

Moroccan Man (Karim) in Well
Moroccan Man (Karim) in Well

Wide Aperture 85mm

Number 7 on the list is the new Canon EF 85mm f/1.4 IS L lens. I don’t take this lens with me when I’m just going out for landscapes or wildlife, but I really like this lens for portraits, which is what it’s really designed for.

I’m hoping that we get a chance to photograph this gentleman in the irrigation canal in Morocco again this year. The new 85mm lens with that beautiful wide f/1.4 aperture will suck in the low light much better than my 24-105mm, although I did use that for this photo and it all came together very nicely.

Item number 8 in the photo is one of my two Peak Design Sling straps that I will be taking along with me. I reviewed these in Episode 629 and I’m still really enjoying using them.

Number 9 on the list is the Dead Cat, or windshield for my Zoom H1n, and below that is an audio cable that I can use to route the audio from the H1n into my camera if I should use the 5Ds R to shoot video, although I tend to use the iPhone to shoot most of the video that I do when I’m traveling, because the 5Ds R is not 4K.

Number 10 on the list is an adapter that enables me to mount the H1n on the 5Ds R via the flash shoe. The one negative thing with the H1n is that if you record while holding it in your hand, and rub against the plastic by moving your fingers, the sound is picked up pretty badly by the mics, so I tend to use it’s little tripod or mount it to the camera as much as possible.

Number 11 in the photo is my 1.4X Extender. When there is wildlife to be photographed I’ll also take my 2.0X Extender, but for Morocco I won’t need it. Behind that is my filter case, with a circular polarizer, and 3, 6 and 10 stop Neutral Density filters from Breakthrough Photography. Number 12 on my list is my Canon Remote Timer which I use really just as a cable release these days, as there is a timer inside my cameras which is pretty easy to use.

Number 13 is my Canon GP-E2 GPS device to tag my images and create a GPS log of my tours for my guests. This is built-in on most other recent Canon cameras now, so it’s a shame that they decided to leave it out of the 5Ds bodies.

Number 14 is my amazing little Bergeon 5733 air blower. This is, without doubt, the best air blower I’ve ever owned, with a really strong air blast in a really small body. The only problem with this blower is that it gets quite hard when it’s below freezing, but I imagine that most rubber blowers do. And at least it doesn’t rupture when cold, so I’ve been very happy with it.

OK, so that’s actually fifteen items including my filters which were not numbered, or sixteen if we count the RRS tripod. The bag is a Guragear Bataflae 18L but they are no longer made, so I can’t provide a link for that. I’m about to zip this bag up and put my 13-inch MacBook Pro and iPad Pro in the back compartment and head off. I did not have time to create a podcast for next week, so I’ll see you in two weeks time after returning from Morocco.

See you on the flip-side!


Show Notes

Links to all the gear I mentioned today are embedded in the above text. By using these links you help to support the podcast at no extra cost to yourself.

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Exhibition at Canon Campus plus Showroom and Museum Visit (Podcast 614)

Exhibition at Canon Campus plus Showroom and Museum Visit (Podcast 614)

I recently received the wonderful opportunity to display my work in a gallery at the new showroom and museum at Canon’s headquarters in Shimomaruko here in Tokyo, and today I’m going to share details including the creation of my prints, how they were treated in preparation for the show, and offer you a chance to visit the Canon campus to view the exhibit and the showroom and museum yourself.

While I was in the middle of my Japan winter tours, I received an email from a friend in Canon asking if I would be interested in working with Canon to prepare and display a selection of my fine art prints in an exhibition space in a new building with a number of floors showcasing Canon’s products. Specifically, the gallery space is on the floor where there is a camera and lens showroom, alongside a museum of Canon’s cameras and other products over the decades, including their very first camera from 1934. Yesterday I was able to take some photos which I’ll share with you shortly.

Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to share my work in such a prestigious location and presented a few options. I initially considered a somewhat subdued selection of winter landscapes, but that idea didn’t fly very well, so I proposed a more colorful selection of images that showed off the potential of both Canon’s camera equipment and their large format printer capabilities. Although I’d been given a blank canvas, it’s not really surprising that Canon went for the more colorful proposal.

Select Media: Breathing Color Signa Smooth 270

The idea was to not only showcase my work as a photographer but also as a fine art printer, as Canon value my ability to make high-quality prints. I was also given a free rein with regards to which print media I would use for the project, so it was not a difficult decision to go with Breathing Color’s incredible Signa Smooth 270 inkjet media. The prints were to be finished by making them into Alpolic panels, so the fact that Signa is not an incredibly heavy paper was not a problem. In fact, it probably helped, as there would be less push-back from the natural curl of heavier papers.

As we negotiated the terms of the job, I had a business decision to make. I didn’t have the go-ahead to start making the prints yet, but we were running on a tight schedule, and I didn’t have enough stock of any single media to make 10 very large format prints, which is what I was proposing. Feeling pretty confident that we could close the deal, I went ahead and contacted my friend’s at Breathing Color, and they kindly rushed my order through, and literally just three days later FedEx delivered three 44-inch rolls of Signa Smooth, one 36-inch roll, and one 24-inch roll. All the way from the US to my door in Japan, in just three days.

I was going to need two rolls of 44-inch, but I ordered an extra roll in case I had to do more than a few reprints. My proposal also included two 36-inch roll prints, and I was running short of 24-inch anyway, as Signa Smooth has become my go-to media when I just feel like printing something out for fun. Now that it’s archival certified, I’m actually leaning towards Signa for print orders as well. You may recall from my review of Signa that it has an incredibly wide color gamut, as well as performing beautifully with black and white prints.

The Printing Process

Having received the go-ahead from Canon, I started working on my prints in March and basically had five days to complete my 10 prints. As far as the actual time to make the prints is concerned, I could make that many in one long day if I had enough room to lay them all out to dry, but although I live in a relatively large apartment by Tokyo standards, using both my office space and living space, there isn’t enough room to lay out more than two 44 x 66-inch prints and give them enough time to degas before stacking them on top of earlier prints.

When I print this size for customers, so far all of my orders have been for single prints, so I extend the table in my studio to create a surface wide enough for them to sit and fully degas for a day before I roll and ship them. As you can see in this photo (below) that is pretty much all of the space that I can use for drying prints used up.

Degassing a 44x66-inch Print
Degassing a 44×66-inch Print
44x16-inch Print in front of Printer
44×66-inch Print in front of Printer

The second place that I can potentially leave prints to dry is literally in front of the printer, with half of the print still resting on the cloth basket that can be used for catching prints, but I configured it to simply feed the print away from the printer by forming a gentle slope down to the floor, as you can see in this photograph (right).

Drying Schedule

Ideally, prints should be left to degas for 24 hours being stacking or rolling them, but if necessary, especially when humidity is relatively low as it’s been for the last few weeks here, we can reduce this a little without causing problems.

I formulated a drying schedule which basically allowed me to make three prints each day. I would end the previous day with one print drying in my studio, and one drying in front of the printer. By the following morning, the print in front of the printer would have been degassed for at least 12 hours, so I took that upstairs and laid it on top of the last print in the stack.

That allowed me to then make the first print of the day. which I’d leave in front of the printer until after lunch, giving it a few hours to dry. Then, after lunch, I took that first print of the day up to the studio and laid it on top of the last print from the previous day, so that print had about 18 or 19 hours to degas. 

Then after taking that first print of the day upstairs, I made the second print of the day and left that in front of the printer until around 6 pm. When I took the second print up to the studio the first print had been degassing for around 8 hours which is just about the shortest amount of time I want to give a print. I then created the third print before finishing my main working day at 7 pm. This third print then sat in front of the printer overnight, as the second print dried on top of the first print for the day until the following morning and the process started again.

Reprints

Of course, if I’d done three prints per day for five days, that would give me 15 prints, but I always calculate in the time to do reprints. Although prints of this size cost quite a lot just in materials to make, there are almost always times when you have to do a reprint.

One of my biggest concerns is getting little spots on the print where there is dust on the surface of the print that falls away after it dries taking the ink with it, leaving a white spot. To help avoid this I keep the printer covered when not in use and I literally dust it off completely before printing. Also, the new design of the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO series printers means the media is fed into the paper upside-down, so any loose dust on the surface of the paper has a chance to fall away before it gets printed on. All of these things contributed to me having just one dust spot in over 200 square feet of print.

This led to me having to do one reprint, and the second was my fault. As I printed one of my Iceland photos I noticed something that I couldn’t quite figure out. There were a few areas of the image that looked as though it had been oversharpened, but the rest of the image looked fine. I checked all of the settings that I usually tweak and couldn’t find any reason for this, so I gave myself a pat on the back for shooting such an amazingly sharp image and sent the image to the printer anyway.

Sure enough, though, having poured over the print, I still couldn’t help thinking that something was wrong, so I went back and inspected all of the modifications that I’d made, and found that I’d cranked up the Structure slider.  I had just started using Capture One when I visited Iceland in 2016 and made that photograph, and I still didn’t quite understand what the Structure slider was doing. Basically, it had made certain areas of the photograph a little too sharp and crunchy. I actually learned pretty much straight after that trip that doing this is generally not a good idea, and I’d stopped applying Structure to my images, so this one had slipped past me.

Although the print looked great, knowing that it could be better I couldn’t resist reprinting that photo. The third reprint was of the Dovercourt Lighthouse photo, as despite going over the image with a fine-toothed comb before making the first print, I found a very faint dust spot on the image that I could only see when printed at 3 x 4.5 feet. This is one reason why I love printing so much. It really helps to find imperfections in our work, and I believe that printing large like this even helps to make us better photographers. Large prints are totally unforgiving and will soon let us know about any technical imperfections in our images.

Upsizing

When I’m ready to print, I do go through and check each image at 100% for dust spots and any other imperfections that I ideally don’t want to find after making the print, then when making such large prints, I upsize them as a final step.

All of the images I printed were shot with my Canon EOS 5Ds R cameras, so although I could probably get away with printing the 50-megapixel images without enlarging them, to ensure that they remained as tack sharp as the originals, I use ON1 Perfect Resize to upsize each image the exact size of my prints at 300 PPI.

Here’s a screenshot of Perfect Resize to show my settings (below). The prints actually needed a 3 mm border around the edges so I set my print size for the 44-inch wide prints to 1111.6 mm wide and 1667.4 mm long, which is just the width multiplied by 1.5, as my images are all 3:2 aspect ratio. Of course, once you have your size and settings dials in, it’s a good idea to save a preset so that you can get to the same settings for the rest of the prints.

ON1 Perfect Resize
ON1 Perfect Resize

This is why I rarely use an arbitrary crop in my images too. If you don’t know the aspect ratio of your photos it takes more time to calculate print sizes and makes it difficult to create a uniform selection of images like the ones I’m presenting for this exhibition. You can see the other settings I used in ON1 Perfect Resize in the screenshot.

Printing

Once I have the image enlarged to the exact size that I want to print at, at 300 PPI I’m ready to print. I printed the first few images from Capture One Pro, but then I started to get some funky remnants appearing on the print preview, so I tried printing from Photoshop and got the same results. To avoid this, I printed that rest of the images using Canon’s Print Studio Pro from within Photoshop. 

To make this process fluid, I created a Process Recipe in Capture One Pro to create a 16bit TIFF with the ProPhoto RGB color space and then just open it in Photoshop, then I launched ON1 Perfect Resize from Photoshop, and changed the settings so that Perfect Resize just modified the original layer, and not create a new one. If you create a new layer at this size it makes the file too big to save without flattening, so this helps to avoid an extra step.

As you can see from this screenshot of Print Studio Pro I also had to leave a 10 cm border on each end of the print to make handling easier facilitate the creation of the Alpolic panels. With prints this large, if you don’t leave yourself something to hold onto as you move the print around, you’ll almost certainly damage the face of the print.

Again, if you are interested in the settings, check out the screenshot of Print Studio Pro (below). One thing to note here is that although I resized to 300 PPI, I still print with the Print Quality set to Highest, which is purported to be 2400 x 1200 dpi, although it’s hard to say what actual print resolution is used.

Canon Print Studio Pro
Canon Print Studio Pro

I do like to print directly from Capture One Pro when possible, and I generally dislike printing from Photoshop, but Canon’s Print Studio Pro that comes with the PRO series printers is actually very nice, so especially as I needed to roundtrip to Photoshop to do the enlarging, this made for a very slick workflow. At the highest print quality, these 44 x 66-inch prints took 34 minutes each, which is amazingly fast for prints of such size and quality.

Preparation

As I mentioned, Canon had arranged to have the prints treated to create what’s called an Alpolic panel out of them. This was to be carried out by a company here in Tokyo called Frameman. From what I can gather, Alpolic is an Aluminum Composite Material, abbreviated as ACM and Frameman are one of the few companies that can make photographic panels as large as the prints I’d made.

I had requested permission to watch the process of creating the Alpolic panels but was told that it’s performed under very strict conditions to prevent any dust getting into the system. I did arrange to go and take my dusty self to have a look at the panels after the creation, but I got stuck in Tokyo traffic and although I allowed more than double the time necessary to get there, I was still at least 30 minutes out when my arranged time arrived, and the head of the company had to leave for another appointment before I’d get there, so I lost that opportunity.

Setting Up the Exhibition Space

I was able to take some photographs as the people from Frameman hung the prints yesterday, so let’s take a look at a few of those photos. The prints were carefully packaged in individual boxes, which was nice to see (below).

Prints in Individual Boxes
Prints in Individual Boxes

There is a wooden frame attached to the back of the Alpolic Panels, as you can see in this image (below). We can also see the aluminum color here, and the print is basically fused to the front of this panel, so it retains its beautiful matte finish. I was really happy to have chosen Signa Smooth for this because it really suited the space and looked great on those panels.

Back of Alpolic Panel
Back of Alpolic Panel

It was great watching these professionals do their job hanging the panels. After I’d told them the position that each print would be hung, they conferred with me on the height of the prints and then proceeded to measure and affix a red line to the wall to mark the height of the top of each of the landscape orientation prints. I thought it was quite fitting to see a red line running across the black walls. Canon users will understand that.

A Red Line!
A Red Line!

The crew then screwed wooden plates to the wall at the height of the line, and each panel was hung on these plates. The Frameman people are true professionals, taking great care in the creation of the panels and the hanging, and they also adjusted the lighting in the exhibition space to ensure that each photo was evenly lit, and they hoovered the floor before they left leaving it spotless, and all this in one hour flat.

Exhibition Concept

I’d decided to show off the capabilities of Canon’s large format printers and camera equipment by doing these huge prints, but the downside was that it left me with room to only display ten images. Because of this, I made my selection based on two loosely related concepts. The first is the actual title of the exhibit, which is “Silence & Life”. We created a large panel to place in the entrance to the exhibition space which explains my concept in both Japanese and English, but I’ll leave that to people that actually visit the space to read.

In short, though, I talk about how I feel alive when I’m photographing and being in the zone in the field often places me in a Silence from which I recall the work, but I also get a sense of Silence from much of this work. I also gain a heightened sense of Life through the various people and places that I’ve been fortunate enough to experience as a result of my work as a photographer, and I truly feel that much of what I’ve been able to do is to a certain degree, made possible because of the excellent equipment that Canon creates.

The other concept which is kind of responsible for the order and flow of the exhibit is that we start with my roots, in England. Here are the first two prints, shot during my December 2016 visit. The first print is Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station. This power station plays a part in pretty much every memory I have from when I played outside as a kid, because it’s visible from just about everywhere in the town where I grew up. 

The England "Roots" Wall
The England “Roots” Wall

I proceed with a photo of the Dovercourt Low Lighthouse, which is something that I learned about from Phil Newberry, a wonderfully talented photographer, who I believe still has the best photo of this lighthouse that I’ve seen. Another loose part of my concept here is that I am kind of looping back from my roots to present day Martin doing the sort of work in England that I’d love to be doing if I’d stayed.

The second wall is three photos from Namibia. I feel so fortunate to be able to visit places like this as part of my work, and I’m eternally grateful to my friend Jeremy Woodhouse for giving me the opportunity to take make my first couple of visits there with him. 

The "Namibia" Wall
The “Namibia” Wall

Namibia now holds a very special place in my heart as I revisit each year with my own tours and workshops, and the photographs that I make there are incredibly important to me.

The same goes for my Iceland work, and again, I owe a debt of gratitude to my friend Tim Vollmer for similarly giving me the chance to work with him there for a total of four years from 2013 to 2016. The price increases in Iceland have kept me away for a while, although I’ve just started talking with a new company about setting something up again for next year. Tim has also since branched out and is doing amazing tours around the world, as does Jeremy, so do check out their websites.

The third and largest wall of the Exhibit is dedicated to Iceland work, as again Iceland is a very special place to me. I had originally wanted to do all black and white images, but this wasn’t colorful enough. My final selection for Iceland though really sums up how I feel about this beautiful country. Much of my Iceland work ends up being quite high contrast black and white, and the rest seems to be very vibrant color work. I have very little that is in-between.

The "Iceland" Wall
The “Iceland” Wall

If I had another two or three walls, I’d have loved to share some of my Antarctica, Greenland and Morocco work as well, but with space left for just one photo, I brought it all full circle with this last image from my new home, Japan. Having lived here for 27 years now, Japan is more home to me than England, so I wanted to finish with a Japan shot, and because I love the winter landscape so much, this was kind of my obvious choice.

The Japan "New Roots" Wall
The Japan “New Roots” Wall

The final wall next to the door has a panel with my profile on it, and two QR codes which are my digital business cards, so if you get a chance to visit while the exhibition is on, scan the codes and drop me a line to let me know what you think.

Canon Showroom and Museum

Because the exhibition is on Canon’s campus in Shimomaruko, it’s not open to the general public, but I am going to arrange a few visits over the next couple of months to enable anyone that is in Tokyo a chance to not only see the prints but also take a look at the incredible showroom and museum that Canon has put together, which are on the same floor.

Canon Showroom
Canon Showroom

Their current line-up of camera bodies are all placed around the center island that you can see in this photo (above) and all of their lenses, right up to the 1200 mm super-telephoto are on display over to the right there. 

There is also a circular cabinet with pretty much every camera that Canon has made over the decades (below). It was great to find my old cameras in this cabinet, especially the ones that I’ve had to part company with to fund upgrades etc.

Canon Camera Historical Collection
Canon Camera Historical Collection

They also have their very first camera with the original name spelled “KWANON” from I believe 1934, and the Hansa Canon from 1936 (below).

Canon's First KWANON Camera
Canon’s First KWANON Camera

Visit on April 16?

Because the exhibition, showroom, and museum are all at Canon’s headquarters, and because a Canon employee has to accompany us, we can only visit on a weekday. I’ve provisionally booked a slot on Monday, April 16 from 2 pm, if you are in or can get to Tokyo and of course, if you are interested in taking a look.

For security reasons, I will need your full name, your company name if you work, and the department name that you work for within your company. If you are not comfortable giving me this information to report to Canon ahead of time, you can’t come. 🙂

If you are happy to share that information though, and you can get to Shimomaruko in Tokyo by say 1:45 pm on April 16, then please drop me a line using our contact form. Just select the General Message category but clearly state that you are interested in joining us for this first visit. 

The exhibit will be open until the end of June 2018, so if you will be in Tokyo after April 16 and would like to visit, let me know and I’ll see if we can get a small group together again. We can’t go too many times, maybe once or twice more, so I can’t promise to take lots of people over many days. I’ll certainly see what I can do though. 

Thank You!

In finishing, I’d like to thank Breathing Color for making such amazing inkjet media and for rushing my order through so that I could complete this job on time. And of course a huge thank you to Canon for the opportunity to display my work in this beautiful space, and for enabling me to create that work with your camera gear and printers. 

[UPDATE: Video]

A week after this post, I released a video including footage of the setting up process and a walk around the showroom and camera museum. 

Craft & Vision eBooks Now Available on MBP!

Before we wrap-up, I’d like to also announce that with Craft & Vision closing their shop doors last year, I am now able to sell my three ebooks directly. If you’d like to read my best selling printing ebook Making the Print, or my other two books Sharp Shooter and Striking Landscapes, you can now get them all here. We also have a three book bundle available with a $5 discount over the individual prices. 

Three Book Bundle

Show Notes

Contact us here if you’d like to visit the exhibit: https://mbp.ac/contact

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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