Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My 5DMII Black Blob testing

A friend suggested that I take a look at the website under the image critique forum. Specifically at an entry posted by Phillip Noll that talks about a black spot issue that has been found on the 5DMII with blown specular highlights. Just after looking at the forum entry and the links Phillip noted I received a call from my local camera store saying that my 5DmII came in. Perfect timing. ;^)
So, this morning I did some testing of the 5DMII, 1DsMIII and the 40D.

The gist is:
1. My 5DMII does exhibit the black spot behaviour but it was difficult to get it to occur.
2. My 1DsMII does not exhibit the black spot behaviour.
3. My 40D does not exhibit the black spot behaviour.
4. Please no one mention to my wife that it is unusual for a photographer to own all three of these cameras. Hey, at least I didn't buy the 50D! :^)

Actually not having a 50D leaves a hole in the testing (I'll have to mention that to my wife). The 50D shares the same ASIC (DIGIC 4) as the 5DMIII but I am jumping ahead a bit.

So, to me, and I know this is controversial and probably not correct as I have never designed a camera, it seems that the problem could be in the ASIC or the firmware. Oh please let it be in the firmware!
How did I come to this conclusion? The 5dMII and the 1DSMIII share the same imaging chip and the 1DSMIII doesn't exhibit the problem. So, I am thinking that the problem is not with the imaging chip.
If someone out there can perform the same test with a 50D (excuse me if this has already been done) and if there is no issue on the 50D then the DIGIC 4 can be ruled out. That would be great! With that we can say that it is most likely the firmware. Right? Yes I know I could be wrong so please feel free to let me know.

Here is the experiment I performed.
I placed a lamp with a Sylvania 75w 120v WFL J868 (a flood lamp I use for simple lighting) 10 inches behind a black sheet of construction paper that I had poked pin holes in (thanks to Andrew Yip for the idea) and setup the cameras on a tripod 7 feet away from the flood. I used my Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro lens for all images.
I found that at ISO 400 I was able to get "good looking" black spots at F5.6 at 2" (2 seconds). I could see them easily at F8 at 2" also. If I shut down the aperature beyond F11 I did not see the black spots. I did keep the exposure the same by changing the shutter speed to coorespond to the aperature.
At ISO 80o the spots were not as noticable and at ISO 1600 I didn't see them at all. This doesn't reflect what others on the web have seen and I admit my test was more limited... less real world. Also, I should mention that I turned all the Custom Functions II settings to Disable and still got the problem. I tried them all on and still got the problem.
I took the images with Large JPEG and RAW and got the problem.
And here is something I hadn't read yet, I was able to see the problem on the camera's LCD screen when I zoomed in all the way. That leads me to agree that it is not RAW processing that is causing the issue. Unless the processing of the RAW image data that is performed so that the image can be displayed on the LCD screen is causing the issue AND the jpeg processing is causing the issue. I guess that isn't too far fetched but I kind of doubt it is the culprit.

Is the problem bad enough for me to send the camera back? I am mostly a wildlife/landscape photographer so I don't think I will be hit too hard by the black spots... but I will be doing some real world testing over the next few weeks.

Has anyone performed this type of testing on a 50D?

Everyone has seen the images of the black spots so I won't post a bunch more... but here is an example from my testing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

When you can't find a subject... go abstract!

My intern, Sophie Raynak, came with me to scout Eldorado Springs State Park today. The light wasn't great, no great subjects, so we played with the camera settings and came up with the following. I would love to take ownership of the image... she is just an intern ya'know... but I will rise above and allow her to take ownership. ;^)
Here's the image:

Pretty cool eh?!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Vegas Baby!

So what does a photographer do when his back spasms on the way to a family vacation in Vegas? Right... he rests in a fancy hotel room for a day then, with limited mobility, hobbles to the elevator and starts shooting from the rooftop. Some might ask, "How did you hurt your back?", the answer, "making sandwiches for the plane ride". I guess they were heavier than I had anticipated.
From the roof of the building I didn't have a good view of any wildlife... natural or Vegas induced, so I started looking for abstracts. Oh, by the way, when you hobble around on a roof of a 40 story building with a camera you'd expect to get some questions, not in Vegas. What happens in Vegas stays... yeah you get it.
So, with a tele zoom I did some isolation of buildings to turn them into abstracts, while my family went to see Stomp. Here are some of the results:

This is some of the new construction at City Center.

Quickly to the edge of abstract. Nothing like beautiful buildings reflected in the windows of another building.

Decided to go to a more traditional abstract, Black and White. A misting rain rolled through which added to the "drama".

Here is the mist rolling through the construction at City Center.

More reflections in the windows of surrounding buildings.

We are back home now and I am recovering from my sandwich building spasm. I did get out one night so that we could all go see Lance Burton. Nice show but I am told by my family that Stomp was better... you'd think they could have lied about that for my benefit. :^)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Still Day 1

Over the weekend I wasn't able to get out to do much photography so I brought the outside in. This is unusual for me but I felt the need to punch out some images.

I've been wanting to play around with black background flower images. Once again, not my usual fair, but I wanted to "stretch" a bit. During a walk around the neighborhood I "obtained" a dried out flower and stem, the subject.

I used natural light from a window, black backing board for the background and white backing board for "light bounce". With this I intended to limit the contrast as much as I could... but not so much as to have a totally flat image. Well, things worked out and after some heavy duty dodging and burning and desaturation'ing I came up with the above image.

Same subject but different processing... black and white. Converting to BW was performed with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw from CS4). After that, dodging and burning were performed in Photoshop CS4.
Well, that was fun!

New Blog, Day 1

This is really a day 1 test. I am setting up a blog, as you can see, for