A List of 5 Things I Wanted to See in 2010

As I look back over 2010, there were a lot of things I wanted to see that just didn’t happen. The list is short but these are the things that I think about while I am working as a photographer.

  1. Canon failed to update the firmware on the EOS 7D to allow disabling the Automatic Gain Control. I am finally starting to enjoy using my 7D for work. I shot an entire football season without using a flash this year. But when it comes to video, I am still better off using a dedicated video camera because it takes an additional $500+ worth of gear to capture decent audio with the 7D. Canon’s low end (under $400) High Definition camcorders feature a mic and headphone jack and allow you to set the levels. Even the consumer oriented 60D allows you to disable the AGC.
  2. Paul C. Buff can’t seem to meet demand with many of their products. I had planned on purchasing a lot of Alien Bees monolights and light modifiers this year. Specifically I wanted to buy a couple of Parabolic Light Modifiers and a bunch of Einstein 640 units. Both have been on back-order or have had manufacturing issues for several months. Needless to say I don’t own either and will probably buy monolights from another manufacturer.
  3. Speedlight makers are still using a prehistoric PC sync port on modern hardware. I use both Nikon and Canon speedlights for off-camera work. I have to constantly bend and tweak the PC sync cables I use to get them to fire consistently. Why can’t they use the 1/8inch mini jack like Pocket Wizards have? It’s stronger, fits tighter and is widely available. 2010 is in the past. In 2011 the PC sync port must die.
  4. I really wanted to see the price of lenses decrease. Instead, most of the line of Canon lenses and camera bodies actually saw about a %10 increase. The weak dollar really screwed the US on that one. Canon announced version 2 of many lenses including the 300 f2.8, 400 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8. The lowest price for the 70-200 f2.8L IS II is a little over $2K. I won’t even mention the prices of the other 2 lenses.
  5. The standard sized hot shoe disappeared from many non-pro camcorders instead of being included. Canon only makes 1 camcorder that includes a standard width hot shoe and it’s on the endangered species list. Sony no longer makes any. Most of the non-pro camcorders now have a smaller, proprietary hot shoe that somehow bares the name “advanced mini accessory shoe”. How advanced can it be when 99% of mics, lights and accessories no longer work without an adapter?

Should anything else make the list?

Locking Mode Dial Upgrade for EOS 5D Mark II and EOS 7D

© Matthew Jonas 2010

Last week, Canon announced the locking mode dial modification for the EOS 5D Mark II and the EOS 7D. I immediately jumped at the chance to have this upgrade performed. I needed to send my 7D in for a yearly checkup anyway so the announcement came at an opportune time. One of my biggest complaints about the xxD and xD series of camera bodies has always been the flimsy mode dial. I have owned a 40D and used a 30D briefly when some of my equipment was in the shop. I always had issues with the mode dial switching to another setting while I was carrying it. Why canon chose to put a locking dial on the 60D but left it off of the 7D and 5D Mark II will always be a mystery. In my opinion this is a design flaw with both of those camera bodies. The forums are pretty divided about whether or not this is necessary modification. As a former Nikon shooter its nice to have this feature again. Nikon uses a locking mode dial on almost all of their cameras-Canon take note. There isn’t much else to say about the modification. It functions as advertised and prevents the dial from being turned inadvertently. The modification isn’t cheap (at $100) but the cost of missing a picture because the mode dial was accidentally switched to another setting is a much greater cost to me. Overall I recommend it.

UPDATED: Now This Looks Interesting: Canon XF100

Photo Courtesy of Canon USA

UPDATED: The Canon Expo 2010 is underway in New York today and earlier this week they unveiled a couple of flash memory based, single chip, professional HD camcorders. They record full HD (1920×1080) to compact flash cards up to 64gb and feature a plethora of manual controls and professional audio options. Some of the final specs are still unknown including the price unfortunately. One of the best parts about this camcorder is the size: just 4.8 x 5.8 x 9.8 in. not including the lens hood or mic mount. That is really tiny for a camcorder with as many features as it offers. I have just about had it with the audio problems of the EOS 7D. I was really hoping that Canon would release a firmware upgrade for manual audio this week but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. If this camcorder comes in anywhere near $2000, I think I am selling my 7D and buying one of these. UPDATE: It looks like the price for the XF 100 is going to be around $4000 and the XF105 will be around $5000, so buying one of these is probably out of my budget. I see a lot of ENG professionals and low budget documentary film makers using these in the near future. Check out the full specs here.

ISO 12,800 on the EOS 7D

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

Evergreen High School has some of the worst lights on their athletic field that I have ever seen. I should have known that when I started shooting lacrosse at 5:45pm and needed an ISO of 1600 things were going to be bad. Lighting conditions quickly went from bad to worse and pretty soon ISO 12,800 didn’t even cut it. I’m not sure how the players could even see the ball. Overall I would say that even with the absolutely abysmal lighting conditions the images should hold up pretty well for print. The only editing done to the image above was cropping to re-size and a minor adjustment of the levels.