Tuesday, January 26, 2021

My wish list for the next Canon professional camera

Today, Sony announced their new flagship camera called the Sony Alpha a1.  This is the first professional level mirrorless camera designed for the high-end photographer who might shoot sports and fast action. This is all fine and good, but I am waiting to see what Canon has up its sleeve for the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo (provided it happens).

I have been using the Canon R5 and Canon R6 for many months now and have fallen in love with both of these mirrorless cameras. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I have become so reliant on these new cameras that my Canon DSLRs have sat virtually idle for many months.

There is a lot to love about these late model mirrorless workhorses, most notably:

* Even though these newer cameras are packed with features, the one feature that stands out the most to me is the eye detection mode. This fine focusing ability has yielded amazing results and let me concentrate on other parts of my photography, as opposed to the old DSLR day when I would spend a lot of my time making sure my focal point was on the eye of my subject. Not only is the focus incredibly accurate, it is also fast enough to lock onto my subjects, even when they are moving. 

* The image quality is also outstanding, even when shooting at high ISO.

* The battery life goes far beyond what Canon states in their manuals.

* The silent shooting mode is really helpful when shooting in quiet environments (which I am doing quite often these days).

BUT, even though I am extremely happy with the Canon R5 and R6, I still have some things that I would like to see from a pro level mirrorless camera (probably called an R1 or something like that) from Canon. 

A little Photoshop work - not a real camera!

Here is my list:

* Two CFexpress card slots

I would love to see two CFexpress memory card slots. These memory cards are super fast and I want to write to both cards at the same high speed. The Canon R5 has one of these slots, but the second slot is a slower SD card slot. And the Canon R6 has two SD card slots, which means that I have to use that memory card format. I prefer the CFexpress not only for the faster write speeds, but more importantly, I want the ability to download the images faster to my MacBook Pro. I also like the size of the CFexpress card more than the smaller and thinner SD card. 

* High capacity battery

Even though the battery in the existing Canon R cameras does a fine job, I would like to see a Canon R1 (as I will call it here) with an even more robust battery. The smaller LP-E6 battery can give me more than 1000 shots, but when I am shooting at events like the Olympics, I would like to have more than that. Can I just switch batteries? Yes, but having longer battery life means that I have one less thing to worry about when I am shooting under pressure.

* Even faster focusing

As I mentioned, I have been really impressed with the focusing capabilities of the Canon R5 and Canon R6, but that does not mean that I don't want it to be even better! I would love to see the focusing speed increased so that the camera locks onto my subject at lightning speeds.

* Faster and user selectable frame rate

Speaking of speed, I really want a camera that lets me select my frame rate, regardless of the shooting mode I have selected. In today's Canon mirrorless offerings, there are some modes where I can shoot in either one frame at a time or 20 frames per second. I want the ability to select something like 3fps, 8fps, 15fps all the way up to 30fps.

* User selectable image resolution

Many of the newer DSLR and mirrorless cameras are offering really high resolutions, in the 40MP to 70MP range. For most of my photography, I don't need or even want that type of resolution. But I would love to have the choice to shoot at various resolutions, depending on what I am capturing. I would love to have a camera that would let me shoot anywhere from 20MP to 50MP, and make it use selectable.  

* Better quality at high ISO

I can't have a wish list without asking for even better image quality at high ISO. This is not to say that the existing cameras do a bad job with high ISO, but hey, I always desire cleaner and sharper images in low light!

* Save / Load camera settings

I know that this is a small point, but the previous high-end cameras from Canon allowed me to save the camera settings to a card and therefore transfer all my settings (and custom menus) from one camera to another. I want this in the Canon R1.  

For those of you reading this and wondering if I have this camera in my hands to test right now, I can tell you the answer is "no". And I have not been told anything by Canon. If I knew anything officially, I would not be able to write this blog post as I would be under an NDA with Canon. But am I hoping to have a camera like this in my hands before the Summer Olympics? Heck yes! I guess that only time will tell.

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, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Almost a year of no events - the challenges, the pivots, the uncertainty of this pandemic

Here we are at the beginning of a new year and we are still surrounded by an abundance of uncertainty and an unknown future. It is hard to believe that most of this started back in March of last year, with none of us knowing what we were headed for. As I look back to the beginning of this pandemic, a couple of moments really stand out from the rest:

* I was driving to a Temple to photograph a Bar Mitzvah when I received a phone call from a photographer friend who also shoots a lot of events here in the Bay area. He told me he was getting multiple cancellations from his clients. I had yet to have any, and thought that maybe he was over reacting. 

* I remember hearing that we might have to shelter in place for 2-3 weeks and thinking "Two or three weeks! That is a REALLY long time!"

And here we are almost a year later and still dealing with all of this. 

For those people who work in the event business, it has been brutal. I think of the venues, caterers, florists, DJs, coordinators, photographers, videographers, rental companies and so many others who have basically lost all their business for a really long time. For most people, the biggest impact is financial. But there are so many other losses, including the lack of creating art for others, the lack of socialization, and the boredom of staying at home. I feel all of these on a daily basis. As you may know, I am one of those people who likes to be busy all the time; working, traveling and socializing. To say that this has been a tough year is an understatement. But at least, as a photographer I have something to shoot right now. Many of the others vendors have no business at all. And it gave us a chance to follow up with past clients to encourage them to select their favorite images and get their albums designed and printed.

But along with all of those challenges, I have seen some bright spots too. I have seen some of my industry friends pivot their businesses to achieve revenue in really creative ways. A couple of my friends who own DJ businesses are now providing high-end Zoom conferencing production capabilities. I have seen coordinators who used to organize large parties who are now helping their clients put together virtual events and even deliver gift boxes to attendees.

It is not just the people in the industry who have adjusted to the pandemic, but the clients as well. When Covid19 was shutting down everything, nobody knew what to do. My calendar showed almost every weekend booked with some type of event, and that just stopped completely. It took a little while for people to adapt to the "new normal", but the adaptation has been really interesting. There are still no parties, but at least people have gotten creative with the situation we are in.

The first event that actually happened was a Bar Mitzvah on April 18th, and the family told me they were doing the service in their home via Zoom. It was a last minute decision and they scrambled to make it happen.

At the time, I thought that this was a totally unique solution to use this new service called Zoom, but not likely to become the norm. And with so much unknown about Covid, I was not going into their house. I did offer to go to their house (at no charge) and take portraits of them in their front yard. I felt that this event should be captured for the family, regardless of the circumstances.

They were joking about the month long shelter in place, and how they were ready to strangle each other. And that was back in April of 2020!

In June I photographed another Bar Mitzvah at the family home, and this time the Temple loaned the family the Torah. It was great to have that for the photos.

This was the first time that I had entered a home and captured photos of the mitzvah service (with my mask on and staying at least 6 feet from them).

In early August, I photographed another Bar Mitzvah, and by this point the Zoom Mitzvah was becoming more routine. The big difference is that the families had become more Zoom proficient and more cognizant of the lighting, foregrounds and backgrounds.

And this was the first time I had ever photographed a Bar Mitzvah with a dog at the service!

Towards the end of August I photographed a beautiful Bat Mitzvah in this family's backyard. The decor was amazing and the video production was now really polished. They had different camera angles, top notch microphones, and even someone designated for the video production. 

This was also the first mitzvah where I exclusively used the Canon R5 and R6 mirrorless cameras (making overhead shots like this a breeze).

Before the month ended, I photographed a wedding at this family's home.

The entire wedding was performed on their front porch, and it was awesome. Lots of great moments and lots of laughs too. 

And just like all the other events, one of the main guests was the computer and Zoom camera. 

In early September, I was back inside a client's home to photograph another Bat Mitzvah. 

And they had their new puppy joining us as well.

Yes, this was the moment where their puppy did #1 and #2 on the carpet during the service. You don't see THAT every day! Hysterical.

In late September, I photographed this young lady's Bat Mitzvah at the local JCC. Her mitzvah was supposed to be in March, and was my first postponement. They did a beautiful job of decorating a hallway, and only the family and myself was in that space for the service.

The service was then broadcast outside the building to families (who each had their own table distanced from the others).

In early October I photographed a Bar Mitzvah inside a temple for the first time in almost 8 months and it felt so good! 

Once again, it was just the family and myself (and the video guys) inside, with everything being sent out via Zoom. 

A week later I was in a different temple and feeling like maybe we were headed back to more normal days.

Still all Zoom but at least I could get more traditional photos.

There was even a lunchtime party at the family's home.

In November it was pretty much the same, shooting with limited people at the temple. By this time, custom face masks were almost a given..

The key photographic moments are a little different for a Zoom mitzvah, like this moment at the end of the service when everyone is on Zoom congratulating the family. 

And just when I thought we were heading into more normal times, the next wave of Covid hit California and all the churches and temples were shut down again.

So...I was back to the client's home to photograph the next service.

One of the local temples acquired a mini torah for them to loan out to their mitzvah families. 

In December I photographed a Bar Mitzvah inside a tent, with a limited number of people in attendance. 

More custom face masks....the sign of the times.

This family decided to host a drive in movie party for their closest friends and family. They played interactive games and even had dinner delivered to each car.

And they played the young man's favorite movie.

This last weekend, I photographed yet another Bar Mitzvah at the family's home.

Since so many of their relatives could not be there for the big day, they decided to make these awesome photos representing family who could not attend. 

They hosted a drive-by ice cream stand for friends and family in the area.

This was yet another clever way of celebrating a young man's big day in a unique way. 

As I mentioned earlier...these are tough times, but it is nice to see so many people adapting to the current situation and coming up with their own original celebrations. For me as a photographer, this time has given me a chance to photograph these events in unique environments. 

With that said, I can't wait to get back to the days of traditional parties, but only time will tell when that might be. 

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, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Photographing a baby and a toddler in natural light

It was the day after Christmas and I was up in Sacramento celebrating with family for a couple of days. My niece and her husband were at home with their 2 year old and their 2 month old, and I offered to come over and take baby photos for them. You may remember that I took photos when Patrick, their oldest, was a newborn (that blog can be found here) and he has grown up a lot since then! Now he has been joined by brother Owen, and we needed to document these cuties while they are young and adorable. 

(Canon R6 camera, RF 24-105mm lens at 70mm, ISO 1000, f/4, 1/400 sec)

I started by photographing Owen on his own, since Patrick was still taking his nap. I was using the Canon R6 with the Canon RF 24-105mm lens

(Canon R6 camera, RF 24-105mm lens at 105mm, ISO 800, f/4, 1/400 sec)

I got down low on the ground and photographed Owen from his level. I brought some different lighting options, but decided to keep it simple and use window light only. We positioned Owen facing the sliding glass door, which was behind me. 

(Canon R6 camera, RF 24-105mm lens at 85mm, ISO 640, f/4, 1/250 sec)

The window light was perfect for lighting his face and also adding nice catch light into his eyes.

(Canon R6 camera, RF 24-105mm lens at 45mm, ISO 640, f/4, 1/400 sec)

We put Owen into the same bucket as we did with his brother 2 years earlier.

(Canon R6 camera, RF 24-105mm lens at 45mm, ISO 640, f/4, 1/320 sec)

I stood straight over him and shot down, careful not to get my shoes in the shot. (Photographer's note: the photo was taken in color and then converted to B&W using NIK Silver Efex Pro in Adobe Photoshop)

(Canon R6 camera, RF 24-105mm lens at 43mm, ISO 1000, f/4, 1/125 sec)

Again, like 2 years prior, we put the youngsters in front of their custom skateboard.

(Canon R6 camera, RF 24-105mm lens at 45mm, ISO 1000, f/4, 1/100 sec)

When photographing kids, you need to be ready to capture the really cute unplanned moments like this.

(Canon R6 camera, RF 24-105mm lens at 43mm, ISO 1000, f/5.6, 1/80 sec)

I love this photo of them both looking at me as if saying "are we done yet?" (Photographer's note: You will notice that I changed from f/4 to f/5.6 for this photo. I did this because I wanted both of the boys in focus. Having a slightly narrower aperture, gives me both of their eyes sharp.At f/4, only one of their faces would have been sharp.)

Patrick was very interested in what I was capturing in the camera. And like with any client, I had to get approval from him. (Photo credit: Annette Cable)

(Canon R6 camera, RF 24-105mm lens at 65mm, ISO 1000, f/5, 1/100 sec)

Patrick got this really nice wood puzzle for Christmas, so I asked him if he wanted to hold it for some photos.

(Canon R6 camera, RF 24-105mm lens at 65mm, ISO 1000, f/4, 1/160 sec)

He gave me this look right before tossing the puzzle in the air. You can see that "I am almost 2 and can do whatever I want" look in his face.

(Canon R6 camera, RF 24-105mm lens at 65mm, ISO 1000, f/4, 1/125 sec)

My daughter, Ali, moved the blanket away and decided to do some yoga poses with Patrick. This is him looking up at her to see what she was doing.

(Canon R6 camera, RF 24-105mm lens at 37mm, ISO 1000, f/4, 1/125 sec)

Ali was showing Patrick the tree pose and he was doing his best to imitate her. 

(Canon R6 camera, RF 24-105mm lens at 63mm, ISO 1000, f/4, 1/125 sec)

Then it was time for Patrick to get his own camera out for some photos.

(Canon R6 camera, RF 24-105mm lens at 63mm, ISO 1000, f/4, 1/125 sec)

I love this shot of "Little P" looking at the back of the camera. Even though he has no LCD on the back, and it is only wood, it still looks like all of us professional photographers who are checking our images while shooting. 

(Canon R6 camera, RF 24-105mm lens at 53mm, ISO 1250, f/5, 1/250 sec)

Then it was time to get some more photos of Owen in the bucket again, this time with Patrick.

(Canon R6 camera, RF 24-105mm lens at 50mm, ISO 1250, f/5, 1/250 sec)

Ahhhhhh. So cute!

(Canon R6 camera, RF 24-105mm lens at 53mm, ISO 1250, f/5, 1/250 sec)

After a couple of kisses, Patrick got tired of kissing Owen on the head. But Ali had a plan. She placed an M&M on Owen's head and told Patrick he had to eat it off of his head. And voila, I got the last shot we wanted. Good thinking Ali!

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, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.