Allen's Blog

Posts tagged ‘Canon G11’:

The Secret Canon G11 Accessory Everyone Wants — It Does Exist!

I’m just back from San Francisco, a chance to see some of our dealers in the Bay Area and to spend the weekend with my son and daughter-in-law. In the course of a visit to Keeble & Shuchat Photography, in Palo Alto, I left the store with a Canon accessory that I’ve been wanting for a number of years but never knew existed.

Canon FA-DC58B filter adapter

Like many professionals, I have loved and worked with Canon’s G-series for a long time. My first was the G2, and at the time it was an $800 camera and worth it. Now we’re at the G12 with a price of around $400 and the swing-out, tiltable screen that was a feature of the G2 way back when. My current model is the G11, and what I’ve always wanted is the ability to use filters on it. Canon happens to have a perfect add-on, the FA-DC58B, which fits the G10, G11, and G12 cameras. What is also interesting is that this adapter is something I think thousands of G-series shooters would buy instantly, if not for the fact that its existence is buried deep within Canon’s site. A couple of major professional dealers I mentioned it to had no idea it was even available. But I asked the right question of the right people at K&S and for less than $50, I’ve greatly extended the creative capability of what is already a great camera.

FA-DC58B filter adapter on Canon G11

To use the adapter, just remove the ring that surrounds the lens (push the release button and rotate the ring a bit); then replace that ring with the adapter, which has a 58mm screw-in front thread, and add whatever filter you want, with no vignetting at any focal length. Even though there is a built-in 2-stop ND filter in the camera’s menu, I often want to extend shutter speeds even more. So adding a 3-stop ND gets me just where I want to be. And if lens protection is what you need, a simple UV filter will work. I also find a lot of use for a Low-Contrast filter in landscape photos.

I mentioned the adapter to my friend and fellow photographer Allan Weitz, and within the day it was up on his very informative blog, fotoBistro.com. If you are shooting any of the more recent G-series Canons, it is definitely something you need to have in your kit.

High Praise for Low Fidelity

The New York Times' front page for November 22nd, 2010

The New York Times is at our doorstep before the sun rises, particularly at this time of year, and a quick look at the front page told me that something very interesting is unfolding in the area of major newspaper photojournalism. Four photos from Afghanistan (there are six more on the inside ‘jump’), credited to staffer Damon Winter, looked nothing like images from the Nikon/Canon realm of equipment.

There is no mention in the captions, or in the long piece they accompany (about a unit of U.S. forces in that country)  that provide a clue. But a quick trip to the paper’s photo blog gave the answer: Following the lead of the troops who routinely use their cell phone cameras to record life in a war zone, Damon Winter has taken his iPhone and, with the Hipstamatic app, produced a series of vignettes (with more to be seen on the web). At the same time, he’s using his Canon EOS 5D Mk II to shoot video for the paper (as well as, presumably, still photos). In any case, his coverage on the web is very impressive.

That got me in a back-to-the-future mode. Just this past weekend, the Wall Street Journal did a piece on the latest generation of cameras (think Sony/Samsung/Panasonic/Olympus) that provide a nearly professional bridge between point-and-shoot and SLR equipment. The essence of the WSJ article is that the SLRs are too bulky and too complicated for the average user to truly master. I know this is true – even my Canon G11 and Nikon D300 have features and capabilities that I can’t begin to remember. That’s why I keep a Nikon F (from 1967) and a Kodak Hawkeye (from the early ’50s) on my desk, just as reminders of how simple things used to be.

1967 Nikon F

I’ve got nothing at all against technology; after all, I’ve built a company that provides equipment (some of it quite sophisticated) to photographers and filmmakers. But not so many years ago, I never had to carry a 200-page manual to take advantage of the features of any of my cameras. I know lots of very smart people who are buying some very expensive digital cameras and never (never!) taking them off the ‘auto’ setting. So it’s easy to understand the appeal of keeping it as simple as using my first Brownie was 60 years ago.

An early-1950s-vintage Kodak Brownie Hawkeye

By the way, in a nod to recursion, the photo of today’s NY Times front page was taken with my iPhone 4.

The “Nature” of Quick and Dirty Macro Photography

Great close-up nature photography doesn’t have to involve a lot of equipment (and weight or bulk). I almost always have with me, besides the latest in Canon’s G-series of professional quality point-and-shoot cameras, a couple of our smallest Flexfill collapsible lighting reflectors, a Steadybag Jr., and a table-top tripod and head.

Comparison of an open 20-inch Flexfill with an identical closed model inside its storage pouch

We’ve been bothered at home by an invasion of what I just learned are cicada-killing wasps. Earlier today, I watched one of these airborne attackers start to drag his latest victim under our porch. A quick shot of hornet spray took care of the wasp, but it was too late for the cicada. But in a couple of minutes, using a white Flexfill (model 20-1) as a shooting surface and a silk Flexfill (model 20-9) to diffuse a very harsh sun, I was able to produce a studio-quality image of both.

Insects on a white Flexfill

The Canon G11 has extraordinary macro capabilities (plus I always try to shoot RAW files), and since I was shooting down, my Leica ball head and tripod was the choice over the Steadybag.

The silk Flexfill was the key to the shot, allowing the G11 to make a correct exposure even in bright sunlight. Each of the 20-inch Flexfills weighs less than 5 ounces, expands to a 20″ circle, folds down instantly to about one-third that size, and fits into its own 8″ pouch. Flexfills come in a variety of sizes, up to 60″ across, and all of them are similarly compact, lightweight, and reliable.

Next up: using the ultra-cool LitePad (Rosco’s LED light panel) to produce a location food photograph at the edge of the ocean.

The American Flag Under a Clear Blue Sky

The American Flag Under a Clear Blue Sky

It may be one of the most common photographic clichés, but who doesn’t like a good picture of the American flag in a strong breeze?

I spent most of this past Sunday on the waters of Long Island Sound, helping a good friend move his boat from its winter storage site to where it will spend the next few months here in southwestern Connecticut. The weather could not have been better – lots of sun under a perfect sky, favorable tide, moderate winds,  and not-too-choppy seas. We were on the water for about four hours, and I had (as usual) my Canon G11 with me. It was in the last hour of our trip that I was inspired to make this image, and I’m sharing it with you here. Actually, we were bouncing around quite a bit, and trying to get the flag just right without showing anything but the flag and sky took a fair number of tries (about 50, if you must know.)

The picture was shot in RAW at ISO 80, using shutter-priority (1/800th) and about a stop of under-exposure; producing a file size of 10 MB. As you know from previous posts, I’m a big fan of the Canon G-series cameras, and while I’m always looking carefully at ‘what’s next,’ I think the image is exactly what I was going for.

Expanding the Walls: A New Generation of Documentarians and Cameras

A couple of weeks ago, in a special section of the New York Times devoted to museums, Corey Kilgannon wrote a great piece about a yearly program called ‘Expanding the Walls’ at the Studio Museum in Harlem. This year, a dozen girls, all of them black or Hispanic and with no prior photographic experience (other than the point-and-shoot picture taking that is a part of everybody’s life), were given professional digital cameras along with the training needed to let them go forth in their communities to document their own lives and those of family, friends, and neighborhoods.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of such programs; in fact, they are probably in place in numerous communities throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world. But two things caught my eye –

Expanding the Walls is based on the way the late James Van Der Zee approached his life’s work of photographing the people of Harlem in the 20th century. Van Der Zee (who died in 1983) came to wide renown only toward the end of his career, and the dignity he conferred on his subjects shows in all his images. So beyond the technical training the girls have received, they have been learning the direct connection between the photographs they are taking now and the pictures of Mr. Van Der Zee and other documentary photographers.

The other thing that drew my eye was the photograph at the top of the story. I looked carefully at the photo (by NYT staff shooter Marilynn K. Yee) and saw that the cameras in the hands of the girls in the photo are both Canon G11s. I have no way of knowing if the G11 is the only camera being used in the program, but it’s a wonderful choice.

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