Friday, November 23, 2018

Some of the best Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals I have seen (in one place for you)

I have been watching the flood of emails coming into my inbox, all of them announcing deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Some of the deals are good and some are great.

Here are some of the best deals I have seen for the the products I love the most.

Canon 5D Mark IV camera bundle - $3149 (Saving $550) - LINK HERE
Canon 100-400mm II lens - $1799 (Saving $400) - LINK HERE

25% off all ProGrade Digital cards and readers - LINK HERE

20% off and free shipping for all BlackRapid products - use code BRBFCM18 HERE

$50 off Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet (Medium) - LINK HERE

10% off all MagMod products - LINK HERE

Apple 15.4" MacBook Pro with Touch Bar - $1699 (Saving $700) - LINK HERE

Luxli Cello 10" LED light - $329 (Saving $170) - LINK HERE

Most of these are good through through Monday. I hope this helps you get some new gear and save some money too.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

It is Thanksgiving here in the United States, and for all of you who live here, I wanted to reach out and say Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

I have a ton to be thankful for. I have an amazing family, great friends, a job that I love, good health and all of you who continue to inspire me every day.

So much of this holiday is based on eating, so I figured I would post this photo of one big mouth, ready to be stuffed. Even though turkey is not likely on the menu for this herbivore. In another 7 weeks I will be back in Africa for another month of photo tours. Another thing to be thankful for, as I love Tanzania so much.

I hope that each of you have as much to be thankful for, and that you all have a happy and healthy holiday today.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!


Friday, November 16, 2018

A new free video called "How to go from Amateur to Professional Photographer"

B&H has released another one of my presentations to their YouTube channel. This video is called "How to go from Amateur to Professional Photographer", and I talk about the business of photography.

For all of you interested in turning your passion for photography into a business, this video should be very helpful for you.

Click the image above to watch the video

As always, I don't hold back any information, and am proud to be open about the challenges and triumphs of being a professional photographer. Enjoy!

Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

I have been waiting more than a year for this - The new Drobo 8D direct attached RAID drive!!

I have been storing all of my data on Drobo RAID systems for more than 8 years now. Yes, that means that I have EVERY photo I have ever taken, all stored safely in my office and remotely. For my direct attached drive (connected to my Mac Pro) I was using the Drobo 5D3, but I really wanted an 8-bay unit with more capacity and speed.

It was more than a year ago that my friends at Drobo let me know that this was on the roadmap for them. And my response was "I need one!!!!" A couple of months ago, I actually ran out of space on the first volume of my Drobo 5D3 and I had to start putting my photos onto a second volume. At the same time, I knew that a new 8 drive system was almost here, so I just used two volumes and waited...

Well folks, the wait is over! Drobo announced the new Drobo 8D this morning.

I have actually been using the Drobo 8D for a couple of weeks now and loving it!

What is new with the Drobo 8D?

* This is the fastest Drobo ever made
* You can now create volumes up to 128TB for a total of 256TB in one box
* There are 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports (second port for daisy chaining)
* There is a slot in the back of the unit for a 2.5" SSD (which is used to Hot Cache data to make everything faster).
* The 8D is compatible with the newer 14TB hard drives
* They have new volume management software (basically "tech talk" to say that now volume creation and management is more flexible, easier and more efficient.)

What is most important to me?

Sure, I want all the speed and capacity of the new 8D, but what is way more important to me is that my data is safe. Speed and capacity mean nothing if my data is lost! I used to use multiple external hard drives to store my data, but that left me vulnerable if one of the drives crashed. With the Drobo RAID system, if a hard drive dies, I can replace it with another and I will not lose any data.

The transition from the Drobo 5D3 to the Drobo 8D

As soon as I got the new Drobo, my first thought was, "how long is it going to take me to move all the data from the 5D3 to the 8D and how painful will this be?" I have all my data backed up on 2 Drobo 810n NAS drives, so I was not worried about losing data. It was more about the pain of the transition.

As it turned out, the transition was amazingly simple. I turned off my Drobo 5D3, and took all the drives out of the unit. I figured that while everything was out, I would clean them all and proceeded to vacuum all the dust from the hard drives. I then inserted all 5 of the drives into the new Drobo 8D and waited in anticipation. Within a couple of minutes, the unit was powered up and showed up on my Mac desktop. My first thought was "that was too easy!" All the data was there, but still in the smaller volumes. To take full advantage of the 8D, I created a new volume set at 128TB. Again, this took a couple of minutes and after the system rebooted, there it was.

And now that I had space for 8 hard drives instead of 5, it was time to load more capacity to this bad boy. I added a couple of 12TB Seagate Barracuda Pro drives and a spare 8TB WD drive. That process took no time at all. Lastly, since I want all the speed I can get out of the unit, I added a Seagate Nytro SSD to the back of the unit.

I have since copied most of the data from the two smaller volumes into the new 128TB volume and plan to delete the older volumes once all the data is completely moved to the large volume. But that can be done over time and is not a worry for me.

When starting this transition, I prepared for a full day of tech support phone calls and hair loss (which does not come easy for me). After all was said and done, it was the complete opposite. Everything went so smoothly that it almost seemed unreal. After an hour or two I even called my wife and told her that all my "data fears" were gone and I was already back to photo editing.

My new Drobo ecosystem (and how the CA wildfires changed my way of thinking)

I am now totally invested in the Drobo world with 3 different 8-bay RAID systems. I have the Drobo 8D as my primary working drive connected directly to my Mac. I then have two of the Drobo 810n units (which also hold 8 hard drives each) for my Network Attached Storage (NAS). One of those 810n units is at my office and used as a backup and a sharable server. The second Drobo 810n is located more than 200 miles away, at my brother's house, and is my ultimate backup solution in case of something catastrophic at my Bay Area office. Using Drobo's free software, called Drobo DR, my first NAS drive automatically synchronizes all data over the Internet with the second every night at 11pm. This provides a HUGE sense of security for me, knowing that all my data is safe and sound, and far from the other storage devices.

Note: For the past year, my second Drobo 810n was located about a mile from my office, thinking that this was great redundancy. In the past, I figured that the odds of my office being destroyed and another being destroyed miles away, would be almost unheard of. But after the big fire in Sonoma last year and the even bigger fire raging right now in Northern California, I decided to move the second unit much farther. The good news is that, using Drobo DR, the second unit could be half way around the world and the solution would still work well. 

The investment

As you read this, you might be thinking that all of this equipment is costly. And, it is true, with the Drobo 8D bare box starting at $1299, this is not an inexpensive solution. And yes, I am lucky to be sponsored by Drobo and get some of their equipment for nothing. But for someone who makes his living capturing images for personal and corporate clients, I feel that it is imperative to keep their images safe for a REALLY long time. As I have said for many years, I do not consider myself a photographer, I consider myself a historian. And keeping my images safe means that I am preserving history for myself and my clients.

Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

How to get the best performance from your camera and memory card!

Recently, I had someone write to me and ask me some questions about the best way to use memory cards in Canon cameras. I started to write back to him and then realized that this is good information to share with all of you as well. Hence this blog post.

My goal here is to help you shoot more efficiently in your camera. Believe it or not, the way that you shoot your images to your memory cards does have a big effect on the performance of your camera. Answering questions like "Should I use both memory card slots?" and "Should I shoot RAW to one card and JPEG to the other card?"

Since I am a Canon user and very familiar with their line of cameras, this blog will mostly be focused on their cameras, but rest assured, this information will still be useful for all you other camera owners. Hopefully it will inspire you to learn more about your camera's memory card slot(s) and help you get the most out of your camera.

The different memory card slots in cameras 
As camera technology has evolved, so have the memory cards which go in those cameras. Actually, this whole process is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. The camera companies are hesitant to adopt newer memory card formats until the cards are readily available, and the memory card companies are hesitant to ship cards if there are no cameras which use the technology. So, each time a new card format is announced, it takes a while to determine which technology will stick and which will not.

If you look back, you will see that there were many types of memory cards that came out and didn't last very long. Formats like MiniSD, MMC, xD, Memory Stick M2 came and went pretty quickly. The most common memory cards used today are Compact Flash (CF), Secure Digital (SD), with the common new comers being XQD and CFast. But even with these form factors, there have been many iterations of each of them and the camera companies have not always been up-to-date with the latest technology when releasing their cameras. It is for this reason that you need to be aware of your camera and what its data moving capabilities are.

Redundant shooting to two cards 
Having spent 12 years in the memory card business, I can tell you that there is no memory card that will last forever. Since I value every photo I take, I almost always recommend shooting to two cards. Today I am using Pro Grade Digital memory cards because I think they are the best on the market, but even using the best, I still want to protect myself from potential card corruption.

Shooting RAW to both slots or RAW to one and JPEG to the other? 
Before heading to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, I had a plan to shoot full sized RAW images to one card of my Canon 1D X and medium sized JPEGs to the other card slot. I figured that, with this method, I would be able to write faster to both card slots (since the second card would be writing a smaller file than the first card) and I would be able to store a ton of images on the second CF card. Well...after testing this, I found that the camera was taking twice as long to clear it's buffer. This surprised me and lead me to some more testing and phone calls to the technical people at Canon. As it turns out, when writing both a RAW file and JPEG file (to one card or two) the camera has to process both formats, which takes more time. It is for this reason that I never shoot in RAW+JPEG mode. I almost always shoot RAW to both card slots. Heck, if I need JPEGs, I can convert my RAW files to JPEG on my computer in seconds.

Cameras with two different types of card slots 
The Canon 1D X camera had two Compact Flash slots, which meant that both slots allowed me to write at 1066x speed. But many cameras have come out with different types of slots in the same camera body. The Canon 1D X MarkII has a CFast slot and a CF slot, which means that one slot can write at a blazing speed of 3500x and the other can only write at 1066x. When I shoot to both cards (which I mostly do) I am now limited to 1066x for the maximum write speeds.

The same is true when I shoot to my Canon 5D cameras, which combine a CF card slot and a slower SD card slot. More on that in a minute.

The cameras memory buffer matters too
As I just mentioned, when writing to both the CF card and CFast card on my Canon 1D X MKII, it  does slow the write speed, but luckily the memory buffer in the camera is large enough that this is rarely an issue. This is less true on the Canon 5D MKIV which has a smaller internal buffer. The smaller the buffer size, the less the camera can hold internally. For cameras with smaller buffers, it is even more critical to write to the memory cards fast. You need some free space in the buffer before you can take more photos.

Why does Canon ship with different card slot types in one camera? 
Canon is a very conservative company which has been hesitant to release a new camera with an unproven card technology. For this reason, they have created cameras with one newer card technology slot and one older slot. They feel that this helps photographers who have a large investment in the older memory cards, and also helps them hedge their bets with the new formats. I understand that thought process, but it does hinder the new camera when it comes to the optimum writing speed.

Compact Flash (CF) slots 
CF cards have reached the end of their development lifecycle and what we have today is the best that the cards will ever do. Yes, that 1066x speed that you see on most CF cards is the best they will ever achieve. And for the last 5 years, almost all cameras that have come out with CF card slots have been able to take full advantage of this speed. Why? Because the cameras were designed with memory card slots that took advantage of the final spec (called UDMA 7). Because the cameras and cards spoke the same "language", the performance was optimal.

Secure Digital (SD) slots 
SD cards have been around for a long time, but have changed a lot in all those years. They have increased wildly in their capacities and speeds, but because of all those changes, not all cameras can use all SD cards at their full potential. When the Canon 5D Mark II came out, the SD card slot did not support the then current SD speeds and seriously hampered the performance of writing to the SD memory card in that camera. Then, with the release of the Canon 5D Mark III, I was looking forward to a faster SD card slot, and Canon totally let me down. Their engineers in Japan who designed the camera failed to include the current technology (called UHS) once again. Arghh!!! Then, after waiting another couple of years, Canon announced the Canon 5D Mark IV and I thought "for sure Canon has finally put the latest in SD card slot technology into their camera" and once again I was let down. Yes, they did put a SD UHS-1 slot in the camera, but UHS-2 technology has been out for more than 7 years.

What does this mean to you and I? It means that, when writing to both memory card slots of the Canon 5D Mark IV, with one being a lot slower than the other, the camera takes a lot longer to write the data and clear the buffer. So...we have to wait longer to shoot more images. Today, if I am using the Canon 5D Mark IV for shooting sports, I have to shoot only to the CF card. Otherwise I have to deal with the frustration of the "Please Wait" message on the camera as I watch action unfold in front of me.

Newer and faster memory cards 
The fastest memory cards on the market today are the CFast and XQD cards with speeds ranging in the 3500x range. But, as I have mentioned in previous blog posts, it looks like we are about to see the new CFexpress card format very soon. These cards have the ability to write at much faster speeds than CFast and XQD. But the big question is: Will Canon and other camera companies release a camera with two of these card slots or will they have one CFexpress slot and one older slot? Only time will tell.

I hope this helps you understand the subject a little more, and helps you shoot more efficiently in the future.

Related blog post: Why you should not delete images in your camera

Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.