Metal & Glass

My gear, lenses, bodies and other funstuff.

The Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM my new prime lens which I had my eye on for a while. I doubted for a while if I would save a whole lot more money to buy the f/1.2 version but that didn’t fit in my budget. It all started with me reading about the Brenizer effect (more on that later). I read that for this it would be wise to use a prime with a low aperture and a bit longer focal length than usual. So I ended up with the EF 85mm f/1.8 and after some first tests I gotta say – I am loving it. What a beautiful lens it is. Nice bokeh, great sharpness and high focus speed. I was able to buy it secondhand from our local camera shop, and it is only three months old, so still in perfect condition. I consider myself lucky. Here are some specs: Focal Length & Maximum Aperture 85mm 1:1.8 Lens Construction 9 elements in 7 groups Diagonal Angle of View 28° 30′ Focus Adjustment Rear focusing system with USM Closest Focusing Distance 0.85m / 2.8 ft Filter Size 58mm Max. Diameter x Length, Weight 3.0″ x 2.8″, 15.0 oz. / 75.0 x 71.5mm, 425g So I am ahead of many new adventures with this new piece of glass and I can’t wait to test it to it’s full extend.

It took a while but I finally got my new Canon G16 with the Canon WP-DC52 underwater housing. I was lucky that I had the option to order it in the US and got it here without shipping costs or taxes. So what did I exactly get. Basically it is a major upgrade of my Canon G12 and into addition to that an underwater housing which will protect my camera up to depths of 40 meters. I have always been very satisfied with my Canon G12 up till now. So I never really needed to replace my G12. But it was the better specs (faster, new options, etc) and the WIFI addition that made me decide to go for the upgrade. And I am happy I did. I already had some good results and am getting used to the small differences in operation. Of course there are also some things that I don’t like: The display is fixed RAW only available in P, Av, Tv and M mode. Flash needs to be pop-ep up when needed   But for me that are minor things. And on the other side, things I do love are: Wifi More compact design Faster operation speed Faster AF speed Better sensor Better optics Better results   Next to the camera I also purchased the leather case SC-DC85, which is a very expansive case (€95,-), but due to my experience with a similar case for my G12, I know it is worth the money. The times I have dropped my G12….. And no damage at all. So first things I did was buy this case and hope it will protect my Canon G16 as well as my G12 was protected. And last but not least I got the WP-DC52 underwater housing. I used to have a similar […]

Thanks to I got the opportunity to test the Rodenstock Vario ND filter, a variable neutral density filter. Last year I got my hands on the LCW Fader ND mkII for a test (click here to see the results). Personally I was not very impressed by the LCW Fader ND, not even by the mkII. My main concern was the ‘cross’ (crucifix or ‘X’) the would show while using a wide angle lens. It appeared on my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 USM so I didn’t even bother to test the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 USM II. (See on the example of the cross issue on this page.) So I was hoping the Rodenstock Vario ND will perform better. First impression The first difference that I noticed was that the product description of the Rodenstock Vario ND was pretty clear on the ‘known’ issues with wide angle lenses. They even marked the filter with ‘max’ which is just next to the +5 marker. Anything beyond this max marker is not guaranteed to give good results. And they were right. If you ignore their warning you will get unexpected results as you will see in my tests. I didn’t really experience any issues with color shifts, so that is way better compared tot the LCW Fader ND mkII. With the lather I experienced color shifts on several occasions. The test With the filter from Rodenstock I decided to give it al full test. I tried it on almost every piece of glass that I own. This caused a few problems due to the fact that I got the 82mm version of the Rodenstock Vario ND for my test and most of my lenses have the 77mm thread. So I needed an adapter ring. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem but this time […]

Finally (with the help of my mom, and an early birthday present) I managed to get my GoPro HD Hero 2 sports camera. I went for the motorsport edition due to the fact it contains the suction cup which I want to use for inside the car. I also bought the GoPro Ride, a mount for on the steer of my bike (and of course on the bike of my daughter. We already had some fun testing the camera. I mounted the camera to her bike helmet with some additional pivot arms and connectors to extend the distance and pointed the cam to her face. With this setup she was running around the house. This gave us some nice footage. But that is the fun part. So what is my first impression; I did some testing with time-lapse, straight out of the box. As soon as I got back in my car (after leaving the store) I placed the cam to my windscreen with the suction cup and set the camera to time-lapse (without reading the manual). All looked well and I managed to get a very nice time-lapse of my ride back home. The only mistake I made (by not reading the manual) was that I forgot to flip the image, so I recorded everything up-side down. Something which i could easily correct with the software provided by GoPro. The camera itself is very tiny. Which I think is the whole idea behind it. This makes it very easy to attach it to a helmet or other locations or parts. And the whole beauty of the product is that you can buy literally almost any mount to attach your camera. If not from GoPro itself, you will be able to find a 3rd party product that will fulfill your […]

Ever wondered how to attach your Canon E1 hand strap? I did. Luckily I found this little manual a while ago. (sorry can’t remember where I found it, otherwise I would have credited it). I discovered that I did it all wrong, and with the help of the pictures I managed to do it the right way, which gave me a more secure feeling. At the end it is your (expensive) body that hangs on a thread. Keeps me wondering why I never received instructions with the product……

Today we had a beautiful sunny day, so time to go outside and try my new MPE 65mm. And it was hard work. First I thought that all the reviews on the internet were a bit exaggerated, when the spoke of a difficult lens, but it was all true. And I loved it. I can’t say that I have a great result from the beginning, but hey it’s a start. And it looks very promising. I can’t wait to start this journey. I tried some insects but I’m not experienced enough with this lens at the moment to get the results I’m aiming for. So I tried this little screw which is only 10mm long, and I was surprised by the result. This is only a 1x magnification. I also tried the larger magnifications but they were out of focus. Next was this violet. The photo shown here is a stack of 7 photos. (DOF Stack, I will explain more about that in a later article.) I stacked the image with a program CombineZP. In short; what such a program does is combine several images with a different focus point so that the final image has a wider DOF. With this lens set on 5x magnification you only have a DOF of 0.048mm at f/2.8 and 0.269mm at f/16. So that is not a lot. So you take several shots in which the focus point shifts by 0.25mm (if lens is set at 5x f/16) and CombineZP merges these images into one. The last pictures show a Woodlouse. The picture on the left is a handmade stack (I used Adobe Photoshop) out of the two photos on the right. When I shot these I did not had the intension to make stack, so I had to pull some tricks out […]

Just came back from the shop and bought a MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro lens from Canon. The ultimate macro or close up lens that is able to magnify from 1x (real life size) to 5x. Features Focal length and maximum aperture: 65 mm f2.8 Lens construction: 10 elements in 8 groups Diagonal angle of view: 18°14” Focus adjustment: Manual Closest focusing distance: 0.243m 5X Filter size: 58mm What Canon says about the MP-E 65mm: A unique manual-focus lens designed exclusively for macro shooting This is the first macro photo lens designed to achieve a high magnification greater than 1x without additional accessories. It is ideal for small subjects. The newly designed optical formula and UD-glass elements suppress chromatic aberrations which become apparent at high magnifications. For flash photography, Macro Ring Lite ML-3 can be attached to the lens.   First try outs were difficult, but I was warned that this would not be an easy lens. So I need a lot of time to practise and do test shoots. As soon as I have some results I will share them here   On the left you see a picture of the lens in 1x and 5x magnification setting. In both extremes the lens acts completely different. So a new big adventure lies ahead.

I finally took the step and bought my underwater housing for m y compact camera. I own a Canon Digital IXUS 75. For this camera Canon offers a underwater house of the shelf. Until now I only used it once but I love the whole concept of experimenting with underwater photography. And especially now, since I started to swim with my baby daughter, it will offer me many opportunities for great shots. I am totally convinced by that. In the past I use to buy one of those disposable underwater cams, but now in the digital era it is good to own a digital version. When you buy the underwater housing, it comes completely with straps, flash diffuser, silicon gel, o-ring and manual. So you can start straight away. First shot I made was one in the sink to make sure it was really, really waterproof. (40 meters, as stated in the manual). The day after I took it to the swimmingpool. But more on that in a later article.     Like: The nice thing is that all the features are still accessible and function. At first it is scary to use your camera underwater, but after you have seen that it actually keeps the water out, it gives you a comfortable feeling when you know your camera is safe and protected It is a complete package, no need for accessories.   Dislike: You need to remove the wrist cord from the camera when you place it in de underwater housing. And because we always carry it on our wrist this is a little bit annoying. The price, the underwater house is actually more expensive then the camera. I was lucky that I could order it in the United States which was a huge price difference. (220,- EUR vs. […]

I got a PhotoTrack from GiSTEQ. A clever little device that records GPS locations on a time interval. Due to the fact that your digital photos have a date and time stamp it is possible to match your photos to the GPS data from the GPS logger. This process is called GeoTagging. You are tagging your photos with geographical data. This data is stored in the EXIF data of your digital photo. Several programs and websites can extract this data and use it to plot your images on a map. Good examples are, Picasa, Flickr, Locr, Google maps and Google Earth. I wouldn’t be surprised if Virtual Earth by Microsoft is also offering this service. (But I still need to investigate) When I have had the time to do some experiments, I will let you know what I think of the little nifty device

Last weekend, I finally decided to upgrade my gear. I drove to my preferred camera shop in the other end of Holland with my pocket filled with money. I was determined to by the latest edition of Canons xxD series. The 40D. I was curious about it’s new features and had been playing with this body for a while inside my head. On my list were also several new lenses, because i had decided that I would upgrade my glass to f/2.8 all the way. So I did my research on the Internet and made a short list of combinations that I could buy. I was eager for the Canon EF-S 17-55mm F/2.8 iS USM, and the Canon EF-S 10-22mm F/3.5-4.5 USM, in combination with my new 40D. But this left a gap between 55mm and my Canon EF 70-200mm F/2.8 USM. So I also had an eye on the Canon EF 24-70mm F/2.8 L USM. When we arrived at the camera shop (, (Yes, we. My wife accompanied me for moral support), we were welcomed with a nice cup of coffee in the prof room at the back of the shop. And I was sitting at a large table looking at three bodies. My own 20D (which I brought for comparison), a new 40D and a 5D. I had this idea in my head that the new digi III processor would produce more colorful picture then my current digi II processor. So I made some tests with all three bodies. the 20D to see what I had up to now, the 40D because I was eager to buy this. And the 5D because the guys from the shop (let’s call him Gijs) told me that this was nice with colors as well. I never had the idea to buy […]

I was always frustrated with the fact that  my ‘standard’ lens was too dark. So I went looking for a new lens with a bigger opening. I wanted to be able to shoot without flash. So I had three options…. I could go for the f/1.8, the f/1.4, or the f/1.2. But the main drive was the price which ranged from €100,- to €1300,-. Knowing that €1300,- would be way too much and I probably would be unsatisfied if I bought the cheaper one. I went for the f/1.4. And I have to say that I am very satisfied. Please find the specs below. Features -Focal length and maximum aperture: 50 mm f1.4 -Lens construction: 7 elements in 6 groups -Diagonal angle of view: 46° -Focus adjustment: Overall linear extension system with USM -Closest focusing distance: 0.45m / 1.5ft -Filter size: 58mm Crisp images with little flare are obtained even at the maximum aperture This standard lens features superb quality and portability. Two high-refraction lens elements and new Gaussian optics eliminate astigmatism and suppress astigmatic difference. If crisp images with little flare are important to you, they can be obtained even at the maximum aperture with this robust lens..

After purchasing the macro lens I felt the need for a new light source. So I went to my photo shop and got some advice. I had my mind set on the Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX, Canon’s macro flash. But €500,- was a bit too much. I got the advice to go for the Sigma Flash, which only costs €330,-. Luckily this was a good advice. I am very happy with my purchase. Already started shooting the first test shots and I like the option to add shadow to my composition very much. Especially on such a short distance.  But more on this in a later article. Please look below for the specs: -Ideal for Close-up photography, especially medical and scientific applications. -Fully dedicated with the latest TTL auto exposure systems. -Dual flash tubes can be switched on or off for creative flash control -Wireless TTL Flash Control -High Speed Synchro Flash -Guide Number of 14/m, 46/ft (ISO100) Multifunctional Macro Flash designed to work with Digital & 35mm Film SLR cameras (2004.9.10) Sigma Corporation is pleased to announce the new ELECTRONIC FLASH MACRO EM-140 DG. ELECTRONIC FLASH MACRO EM-140 DG is designed to work with both AF 35mm film and Digital SLR cameras of all-popular manufactures. The EM-140 DG Macro Flash is ideal for photographing subjects in fine detail when the shadowless mode is used, and is extremely effective for scientific and medical applications. Dual flash tubes can fire simultaneously or separately. Using only one flashtube creates modeling, which can give a three-dimensional feeling to the subject. The flash features a guide number of 14 w/ISO 100. The Modeling Flash function makes it possible to check for reflections and shadows before actually taking the flash picture. A wireless flash function is also available, where the EM-140 DG is used as […]

Finally I had the guts to by a close-up lens. Which will give me the opportunity to explore the wonders of macro. But more about this in the future. Below you will find the specs for this new lens. I can’t wait to start playing with it.