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Canon 100mm f-2.8 IS Macro

Is it possible to explore the world of macro photography without a tripod? And when it's time to make a movie, could you frame a tight shot by just holding the camera in your hands?

I've been field testing the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens that is the first Canon lens to incorporate Hybrid Image Stabilization that compensates for both angular and shift camera shake during close-up shooting. It's like having a built-in gyro for your camera. Other features include silent focusing USM, maximum aperture f/2.8, wide manual focusing ring, lens hood, and soft carrying pouch. This is a lens you can use for 1:1 macro photography, portrait work, sports, and handheld movie making.

Flower Open

I began by going for an afternoon stroll with just camera and lens, no tripod, to shoot close-ups. It was a freeing experience. My success rate was about the same as when lugging sticks with me. I couldn't stop-down the aperture as far as when using a tripod, but I was truly impressed that by steadying myself and using good shooting technique, I could get artistic close-ups with this lens. And did I mention that I was not carrying a tripod?

Next stop, handheld movie making from the stands at Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, CA. I was there more to enjoy the dolphins putting on a show, than to make a video, so I left the monopod at home. Even with constant panning to follow the action, the Hybrid IS system compensated for camera shake and provided steady shots for movie footage as well as stills.

I also learned that the manual focus override for filmmaking is the way to go with this lens. I could snap the image into a crisp composition much quicker manually than waiting for the autofocus to catch up. If you shoot movies with this lens, I recommend that you use the manual focusing as much as possible. It's easy and very effective.

Backlit Giraffe

This is also an excellent portrait lens. Notice the detail on the Giraffe eyes, and the soft, pleasing background. This image was shot at f/4, which is about as much as I stop down the 100mm for portrait work.

Bottom Line

The Canon 100mm L Hybrid IS Macro is a versatile, well-designed prime lens that's perfect for close-up photography, portraits, and movie making. It's very sharp, has a relatively fast 2.8 maximum aperture, and features an amazing image stabilization system. Its only weakness is ocassional slow auto focusing. You can partially compensate for this by using the 3-position "focusing distance range selection" switch on the side of the lens. I also discovered, however, that manual focusing is so easy with the 100mm, that I would use that to snap the composition into view, then finish off with auto-focus. After about an hour with the Canon 100mm IS Macro, I was working naturally with it. And quite honestly, I did not want to take it off the camera.

The lens is currently on special for $886 at B&H Photo until Jan. 7, 2012. That is the best price I've seen to date. And if you need a professional quality, technologically advanced 100mm macro, I would give this lens a very close look.


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When I've worked events with a Gary Fong Lightsphere mounted over my flash, I've had people ask me if that was Tupperware on my camera. Well, over at ImprovePhotography.com, they tested real tupperware against the $50 modifier in the article titled, Gary Fong Lightsphere vs Tupperware.

And the conclusion? "After my testing, I found that there was absolutely no difference in my opinion in the quality of the light produced by the tupperware in comparison to the quality of light produced by the Lightsphere."

If you go on to read the article comments, however, many readers say that the convenience of the Lightsphere compared to a DIY rig makes up for the price. I can see that.

I mention the Lightsphere in the free movie "Understanding light modifier types and their use" in my lynda.com title, Off Camera Flash. I think it's a convenient modifier in fast-paced situations such as wedding receptions. I look odd enough with the Lightsphere. Imagine if I showed up in my suit and tie with a hunk of Tupperware attached to my camera.

But I love the point that ImprovePhotography makes. It's a fun read if you have a moment.


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A Good List of Photo Apps for the iPad

iPad 2

There's a good list of 16 photography apps for the iPad on photography talk.com. I like many of these selections. Serious shooters should consider the upgrade to Filterstorm Pro that has better organization features and Raw processing, compared to the basic app included on the list.

Another app on the list, PhotoSync is really useful for moving pictures between devices, even in the age of Photo Stream.

One important omission, in my opinion, is Minimal Folio that is a terrific tool for organizing and displaying a portfolio of your best work.

The bottom line is, there are many good applications for photographers available these days. Peruse this list and see if something sings to you.


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There are good deals... and then there's free. Over on the Lowepro Facebook fan page they are conducting a special Free Bag Friday where the winner will get to choose one item from the Lowepro Gift Guide. To participate, all you have to do is post a comment on the Gift Guide about which bag you prefer and why. You have until midnight PST, Sunday Nov. 27 to participate. As with all give-aways, void where prohibited.

If you're feeling lucky, head over to the Lowepro Facebook fan page and join in the fun.

PS: If you didn't already know, I work with Lowepro and love their products.

The new Olympus PEN E-PM1is a camera that I've been toting for the last couple months with good results. DP Review has now put it through a full test. Their conclusion is similar to mine: you get the same image quality as with flagship E-P3, but for a lot less money and only a few less features. They gave the PEN Mini a Silver Award, which I also agree with.

Olympus PEN E-PM1 with Swiss Army Knife Olympus PEN Mini, 17mm f/2.8 lens, with Swiss Army Knife

Related, my satisfaction with the PEN Mini has helped me fight off the urge to invest in the Fujifilm X10 that's now available in the States for $600. It looks like a great camera with positive initial reviews. But the PEN Mini has interchangeable lenses, interchangeable viewfinders, a much larger image sensor, and... it costs less -- $450 with kit lens (PEN Mini)vs $600 with fixed mount lens (Fuji X10).

Ah, so many great cameras... so few credit cards.


Find great deals at the TDS Photography Store on Amazon.


flashpoint_triangle_disc

I love working with disc reflectors, but I don't always have an assistant to hold them for me. I found the Flashpoint 24" Triangular Collapsible Disc that has a rigid design and can be held by one hand. It's silver on one side, providing lots of fill light. And on the other side it has black, white, and gray segments that can be used for establishing exposure and for color balance in post.

And the best part is, the Flashpoint 24" collapsible reflector is currently available for $19.95 from Adorama. Seems like a good accessory for your camera bag, or an excellent gift for that photographer friend of yours.


Find great deals at the TDS Photography Store on Amazon.


It's that time of year when some families take a deep breath and decide to spend time together. If you're the photographer for these brave souls, then you'll probably find yourself in a portrait situation or two. My advice: be prepared to work fast.

Family Portrait Family portrait with child. You're not going to have much time when little ones are involved. Photo by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger size.

I usually have a fair amount of equipment on hand for family portraits. And I rarely get to use any of it. For this image, I had a tripod-mounted Canon 5D Mark II with my trusty 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom. We shot in the morning light while everyone was fresh and alert. I scouted three spots and used them all.

When working quickly, look for areas with naturally diffused light. Keep your shutter speed high (1/250th or so) and your aperture fairly wide. Make sure everyone is in focus. The fast shutter speed helps with wiggly children. Shoot in burst mode.

Have fun! Your cheerful attitude will help mom and dad stay relaxed. Remember, people don't like being in front of the camera in the first place, especially holding a sack full of cats. Work quickly and get your subjects on their way.

And finally, trust that if you do all of this, you'll get the shot.


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What to get that favorite photographer in your life? In this week's podcast I have a dozen great ideas. The bulk of the gifts are less than $50, and most are below the $30 mark. So, let's get to it!

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Gifts Under $30

Freehands Men's Stretch Thinsulate Gloves -- $24.95 (until Nov. 30, 2011)

Joby Gorillatorch-- $28.20

Art & Soul by Brian Smith-- $26.20

The Glif Tripod Stand/Mount for iPhone 4/4S-- $20

Giottos Large Rocket Air Blaster--$8.95

Sanyo Eneloop AA NiMH 4-Pack with AC Charger -- $19.08

ExpoImaging Rogue FlashBender Bendable Bounce Card/ Flag -- $29.50

Canon Lens 1:1 EF 70-200 mm Coffee Cup-- $19.90 or the Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 1:1 Thermos Travel Mug-- $26.90

Gifts Under $50

Lowepro S&F Lens Exchange Case 200AW -- $38.95

Impact 5-in-1 Collapsible Circular Reflector Disc - 32" -- $32.95

Gifts Under $100

Wacom Bamboo Connect Pen Tablet-- $69

Lowepro DSLR Video Fastpack 150 AW -- $99.95

And remember, these are nice treets for you too!

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (28 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Black & White is the Nov. 2011 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Nov. 30, 2011.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- The $7.99 Sample Kit is back! And with free shipping.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.

Need a New Photo Bag? Check out the Lowepro Specialty Store on The Digital Story and use discount code LP20 to saven 20% at check out.




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Maximum HDR with iPhone 4S Camera

The iPhone 4S has a built-in HDR option that works quite well. But, by using the following technique, you can maximize its potential, taking your camera phone images to a new level.

Vineyard Sunset HDR with iPhone 4S Vineyard Sunset captured with an iPhone 4S and processed with HDR Pro in Photoshop CS5. Click on image for larger version. Photo by Derrick Story.

Begin in the Settings dialog for the iPhone. Tap on the Photos icon. Scroll down to the HDR section and make sure that "Keep Normal Photo" is set to "On." When you take an HDR image with your iPhone, you'll now get two images: the original non-HDR shot (normal photo), and the processed image. These two shots will build the foundation for the next step.

keep_normal_on.png

Now it's time to go take some great shots with HDR turned on for your iPhone. When you return home, you'll have two images for each picture. Open both of those shots in your favorite HDR program. I use HDR Pro in Photoshop CS5.

HDR Pro in Photoshop CS5 Take the two iPhone images and open in an HDR processing program, such as HDR Pro for Photoshop CS5.

By having two shots with different dynamic ranges, you're able to get even more out of the composition than you could with the original HDR produced by the iPhone. Once you get the image the way you want, save it and share. People will be impressed that you captured such beautiful landscapes with your humble mobile phone.

More Articles About the iPhone 4S

Gymbl Tripod for iPhone 4S - Hands on Review

Time Lapse Boogie with iPhone 4S

Glif Tripod Mount and Stand for iPhone 4

"iPhone 4S Camera, Ready for Prime Time?" - Digital Photography Podcast 296

iPhone 4S Camera Pros and Cons

iPhone 4S Camera Exceeds My Expectations


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I don't always want to look the part of the photographer. Sometimes I'm just hanging out with friends, having a good time. That doesn't mean I don't want gear with me in case I spot a great shot. These are the days that I enjoy having the Lowepro Pro Messenger Bag 180 AWat my side.

Pro Messenger 180 AW Lowepro Pro Messenger 180 AW

The fabric looks like classic canvas. I love the way it brushes against my arms as I'm working. In fact, it's actually high tech material that's weather resistant and retains its good looks over the long haul. The flap is clever. In "security mode" it stays closed via generous amounts of velcro. Nobody is going to get inside the Pro Messenger without you hearing about it. But when you're working, change over to "quiet mode" that provides access to all of your gear without a sound. You can see how the FlexFlap design works on the Lowepro features page.

Inside, I can transport my 70-200 f/2.8 on body, plus a couple lenses, flash, and accessories. The pocket in the back has a zippered top and bottom. Open them both, and you have a trolly sleeve that slides over the handle of your rolling luggage. Close the bottom zipper and you can stow an iPad or collapsable reflectors there.

If the weather turns foul, I can use the All Weather cover to protect the entire bag. It's stowed behind the front pocket for easy access. Other handy features include a long fabric strap with generous shoulder padding, stretch side pockets, repositionable dividers for a variety of configurations, a large front pocket big enough to hold additional gear including a spare camera body, business card window, and top carrying handle.

Street price for the Lowepro Pro Messenger Bag 180 AWis $169. It's one of those rare items that performs as well as it looks.


Find great deals at the TDS Photography Store on Amazon.