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Night Sky Photography (with my EOS-M)

After recently witnessing the lunar eclipse, I thought it might be cool to see how my EOS-M performed when taking a long exposure photograph of the night sky.

After a bit of research to work out where I needed to direct the camera in order to capture some of the Milky Way, I prepared for the photograph. Camera firmly fixed to a tripod, exposure set to Bulb, ISO 1600, RAW capture (as always) and aperture wide open, I experimented with a number of different exposures with varying degrees of success.

Although the photo below is by no means perfect, the exercise did prove to me that with a bit more practice and experimentation I should be able to use this versatile little camera for respectable night sky photography.

Night SkyLong Exposure Sky, Merrimbula, Australia

EOS-M Update

I haven't had much spare time available recently to try out my new travel kit, so I made a point of taking it with me when I went shopping last Saturday morning. "Boring" you think, .. not so at my regular shopping venue! Springvale is a melting pot of nationalities and has a strong South East Asian presence. Excellent fruit, vegetable, meat and fish markets and an amazing selection of cheap food makes shopping one of my weekly highlights.

Traditions are very much alive in Springvale, men congregate in the centre court of the market to take cà phê đá (delicious Vietnamese iced coffee) and play (or watch) board games.

The early morning acute lighting and concentration of those involved provided nice subject matter for me to try out the EOS-M. Focus is fast and accurate, and the shutter almost entirely silent. I am very happy with the image I managed to capture, what do you think?


Photo Sharing Website Ethos

Photographers need somewhere to share their work with the world. For a variety of good reasons we want our artistic endeavours "out there". I know I did. I have tried out a number of photo sharing websites with varying degrees of success, and along the way noticed some common disappointing behaviour.

There seems to be a tendency amongst photo sharing website populations for disruptive elements to engage in one of three equally counter-productive behaviours that I will refer to as "popularity farming", "ego stroking", and "tall poppy hunting". I think the meanings are self-evident, so I won't bore you by explaining what I mean. 

Whilst photo sharing websites legitimately provide "popularity" tools, they have also unwittingly created an environment that facilitate these undesirables. As long as photo sharing websites promote a photo or photographer's popularity based on likes and favourites some people won't be able to resist engaging in counter-productive behaviour, unfortunately, that's human nature.

I still belong to one photo sharing website (500px) but I'm not sure I will renew my subscription when it next comes due.


Travelling Light

Canon EOS-M Mirrorless Camera

I like to think I am selective about the gear I take with me when travelling. Over the years, experience and physical discomfort have forced me fine-tuned my pack list to what I consider to be the bare essentials i.e.

The body and lenses are never out of my sight. I carry them everywhere in a Tamrac Evolution 8 Backpack and they get heavier and heavier as the day goes on.

During my most recent trip overseas I started wondering whether carrying this amount of equipment was detracting from my holiday experience. I was always aware of my gear both physically and mentally. The red-ringed L series lenses are like a matador's flag to thieves, so constant vigilance is the order of every minute of every day.

Have I found a solution to my problem?

When prices tumbled recently I purchased what has the potential to be my ideal travel kit, a Canon EOS-M Mirrorless camera and 3 lenses i.e.

If you take the tripod out of the equation (because it will be coming regardless) the weigh-in between these two kits is: 2.6 kg (5.72 lb) vs 890 gm (1.95 lb). Now that's a SIGNIFICANT difference. Also, the entire EOS-M kit (including charger) will easily fit into a Lowepro Passport Sling II Bag

The EOS-M has a 1.6 crop factor, so the two kits have almost the same lens coverage. I have to admit though that I am nervous about the downsize in resolution, I have become used to and love the beautiful crisp results from my full-frame 5D Mark II. However, before full-frame, I travelled with a Canon 50D which also has a 1.6 factor APS-C sensor and 3 less Megapixels than the EOS-M. I got some very good photos with that camera, so I hope the EOS-M will be of similar (or better) quality.

The jury is out on how the EOS-M will perform as my "ultimate" travel camera, only time will tell. However, at this early stage, I can say that I am more than happy with the camera's construction, the way it feels to use (with any of the lenses) and the controls (both physical and touch screen). It has great potential to "free" me, I hope it measures up to my expectations.

Stay tuned for more thoughts on the EOS-M.


Pancake Lens Update

I set off early one Saturday morning and headed for Melbourne CBD with my Canon 5D Mark II and recently purchased Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Pancake Lens (see blog post dated 3 Sept 2012). Feeling distinctly Cartier-Bresson, I gravitated towards the popular cafe strips in Degraves Street and Centre Place knowing I'd find plenty of subject matter. I have to admit that the experience was a real pleasure. My usually bulky outfit suddenly became very light, less obvious and much less intrusive. The lens has a solid positive feel and I am very happy with its performance, autofocus was quick and accurate even wide open, and the results are sharp, evenly exposed with good contrast. This is a lens that will always be in my camera bag, and in my opinion a real bargain.



Pancake Lens

I recently added to my lens collection. Canon 40mm Pancake Lens On a whim I purchased a Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Pancake Lens from my favourite camera store Cameras Direct. I have sort of got it in my mind to do a bit of grungy urban and photo journalism style stuff with it. My first impression of the lens is positive. Although it is not an L series lens it has a good solid feel, is well constructed and most importantly has a metal mount. It is the first pancake lens in the Canon line-up, and is a real flyweight weighing only 130 grams (and a thickness of 2.29cm). With its slightly wide angle of view, reasonably fast f2.8 aperture and 30cm minumum focus distance I am hoping it proves to be a nice lightweight alternative to my regular walkabout lens (the EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM). The lens actually looks and feels good on my 5D Mark II, and the combined weight makes it a welcome change from lugging around the much more substantial zoom. Stay tuned for more thoughts as I put it through its paces.


Promote Control

The Promote Control Promote Control from Promote Systems is an easy to use, advanced remote control unit providing flexible bracketing (for High Dynamic Range photography), extended bulb and customisable time-lapse, and focus stacking modes not possible using in-camera control. I have been using a Promote Control for several months for HDR bracketing and experimentation with time-lapse photography. I love the control and flexibility it gives for these applications. Features include:

As an owner of Canon cameras (EOS 5D Mark II and EOS 50D) that have very limited bracketing capabilities, I can highly recommend this remote control unit. Owners of other camera brands will appreciate many of the other advanced features built into the Promote Control.