Archive February 2011

Clean Canons 17-55mm lens

Posted by on Feb 28, 2011 in Blog | 1 Comment

Clean Canons 17-55mm lens

Before I got the full frame Canon 5D Mark II, my favorite lens was the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 IS lens. It was on my 7D 90% of the time….Great image quality.   A perfect zoom range.  I loved the IS and the wide aperture and small size and weight.

But I hated the dust.

I could literally see the dust pile up month to month.   I have since found out that most of the dust comes in from right underneath the label on the front of the lens.  Every time you zoom the lens in and out you are blowing air in and out and along with that comes dust.

I was sure it was affecting my images…..After a lot of image inspection at 100% and higher I could find no evidence that it was affecting anything…but my sensibilities.  But I just had to imagine that at some point it would affect the images (beyond any supporting evidence).

I knew that for a $100-200 I could probably package it up and send it to Canon or use a local camera shop.   But that’s $100-200 that I could spend on new camera stuff  AND…. I did not want to be parted from my favorite lens for the 1-2 weeks it would take to send it, get it cleaned, and then sent back.   And I am a Rocket Scientist…sort of… I assembled, tested, and disassembled the space shuttles orbital maneuvering engines….. This is just a lens. Right??

So….I wonder if there is a way to clean one of these buggers by myself.  I had already braved the cleaning of my own sensor….How hard could cleaning the inside of a lens be…..


Sounds like the beginning of a horror show doesn’t it.

Well I found several posts of others who had tried the cleaning.

Here is one in PBase.

Here is another in also in PBase.

The best reference was from a video on Youtube by motleypixel Motleypixels video on Canon 17-55mm lens.

I sat down with the video, my masking tape, and special small screwdriver.  I would watch…do a step……do the next step… and so on till I had the lens in my hand….OMG what have I just done…..I just potentially ruined a $1300 lens that was working great because of my dust fetish!!!!

Calming down a bit….. I got my rocket blaster and pumped the inside of the lens body til there was not dust.   I must have been a site because I had my watchmakers loupe on my glasses and my headlamp shining from my forehead.

With the surgery complete.   I put everything together.  BTW, the key to this operation is the tape to mark the correct position for re-installing the lens.   If you don’t do this it could mess up the AF.  I put it all together.   Looks good a new….no dust.

I used my lens align system to verify that I did not mess up the lens alignment…..Perfect.  No adjustment necessary and I was off and taking images again.   I think it took about 10 minutes to do it all.

A couple of months later…… DUST!!!!!!!!!   AGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I did more internet searches to find out if anyone had fixed this issue.   There were a couple of posts of people who had a theory that the dust was coming in from the slots of the bracket that holds down the front element lens.  its right behind the canon label.   They attempted to seal those holes with silicon glue to prevent that dust path.   The theory being that if it did not work you could always just peel the silicone away.

So…. I had come this far….what the heck.

I got motleypixle’s video back.   I disassembled the lens.  It really is easy.  I very carefully put a small bead of clear water sealant silicone glue in each of the slots.   Just enough to fill the slot.  That was a little tricky.   The silicone wants to stretch to hair thin threads.   But I did it.  I finished the assembly with the Canon label…. and let it sit over night.   I did another lens align cal….. It was right on with no adjustment necessary.

Four months later.   No Dust.

I know that air is still going into and out of the lenses so at some point I would see dust again but the air path must be more tortuous than the front entry because prior to the sealant that I did the dust would have been everywhere.  So that new path must not be allowing dust through.

Would I do this on another lens?   Not unless I saw that several other people had done it…. AND there was another great video like motleypixel’s.




Hoods are better than UV filters for Lens Protection

Posted by on Feb 28, 2011 in Blog | 2 Comments

Inexpensive Sunpak UV filter

Lens Protection

When I got my first DSLR, a Canon Rebel XS (1000), and the kit lens that came with it, I lived in fear that I would scratch the lens, drop the lens, or otherwise destroy the lens. I immediately got some inexpensive Sunpak UV filters and put it on the lens. As I progressed in this hobby/profession I upgraded the camera and the lens and started a collection of lenses. OMG I could scratch, drop, or otherwise destroy any of these lenses. But I did notice that sometimes the light would hit the lens  and  I would get artifacts (even with a hood).

More expensive Hoya filter

So I went out and got some better quality Hoya filters.   This filter was better,  but I still saw some weird light effects every now and then.

And then it happened.

I had a neck strap around the camera. I had it off my neck resting on a bench (with no hood as I had packed that away). I stood up to walk away, grabbed the camera, and then as I moved away from the camera some invisible force (the strap was caught in the bench) pulled the camera out of my had and on to the concrete sidewalk. There was a sound of shattering glass and little glass shards everywhere.

I thought…. I have destroyed my lens and my camera!!!!

Upon closer examination…. it was only the filter that shattered. And the rim of the filter was bent. The camera was still in perfect condition. BUT!!!! I could not remove the ring. Since it was bent it was jammed into the lens filter threads.  So I was afraid to use it until I got home and inspected it more closely.

I probably should have brought it to a camera shop but I love tinkering with things (I am a rocket scientist after all…for real), With a lot of needle nose pliers effort I was able to pull the ring off.

But this made me think….. Is a UV filter really the best way to protect a lens given that you can have some weird undesired light effects and it may jam itself into the lens.

I searched the internet. Again DPreview is my favorite…. I found that many if not most pros do not use a filter unless it if for image affects. Furthermore I got comments like….”Why would you want to put an added piece of relatively inexpensive glass in in front of $1000-4000 lens (note that I have not gone over $2000…..yet….).  Note that this is one of those arguable issues  or preferences the you will see on the internet.  They suggested keeping a cap on it when not in use in your camera bag or at home. When it is in use keep the hood on. With the hood on it should protect you from 98% of any item that would scratch it…. And if you get in the habit of having it on all/most of the time, then when you drop it (AND YOU WILL DROP IT SOMETIME), The hood is a great shock absorber for the lens and the camera… and its only plastic. It  probably won’t jam on anything and would be easy to remove if it was damaged.


Lens with Hood

So about 2 years now, I have only used a cap and hood.

There are a couple of downsides. Dust and water. Some lenses, like the 17-55mm f2.8 IS sucks in dust. I have/had (selling on ebay at this moment) this lens. It is known to suck in dust primarily from the front side under the label. After about 6 month’s  use it looked filthy with dust on the inside, although it never affected the images. But the dust bugged me. I have read that if you use a filter on this lens it prevents dust. There are some other lenses that do the same. They are typically the Non-L class zoom lenses. When you move the lens in and out….the air has to go somewhere. And air carries dust.  I rented a 100-400mm L on a trip recently and it was filthy with dust (the store rents them without a filter BTW)

But I still did not want to put a filter on. So I cleaned it (Another blog to follow) and put a bead of silicone glue under the label (per another poster’s suggestion).   Problem fixed…..

As for the water. If you want to take pictures in the rain or snow…… Unless you have a newer L class lens, there are other places for the water to leak in on a lens. So while a filter will help….its not the only answer. You would have to use some kind of rain cover. If its light rain and not blowing the hood will help.

So…… No UV filters for me!

BTW as I was posting this blog to some forums I came across a REALLY thorough coverage of this topic by a moderator ( Lester Wareman) at the Canon Digital Photography on the net site here.


Rationale for a move from Point and Shoot Cameras to Big Heavy DSLRs

Posted by on Feb 17, 2011 in Blog | 18 Comments

I used to be perfectly happy with my tiny, fit in my pocket, point and shoot camera.    I could go all day with a tiny canon elf camera in my pocket and ALWAYS have it handy to take a picture.  I would see other people with their DSLRs and  big lenses hanging around their necks, and large bags full of lenses, filters flashes around one shoulder and then maybe a tripod strapped around another shoulder.   It looked totally cumbersome.

I knew a little about SLR’s.  I had a Minolta SLR back in the 70’s and early 80’s.  I did color stuff for friends and family and Black and white for myself.  I even set up my own black and white print developing area.  But to be honest… I barely knew what I was doing.  I upgraded to a better Minolta in the 80’s and got an extra lens.  I mainly used it for family and friends shots.  I did not know what I was doing and took most of my shots in automatic mode.

When I saw the small ( really not that small) digital cameras first come out…I thought they were a joke.   The images that they took were grainy and not anywhere near what I could do with film.   I did not think that this technology would go anywhere.   But I am a technology geek and before long I got my first canon digital camera.  It was the the Canon A5 zoom, with, (drum roll please)………….  .8 megapixels image capability….yes that’s about 800,000 pixels.  Seemed pretty good at the time.

So i would upgrade about every year or so.  I upgraded for greater MP’s or a better zoom.   I fell in love with the little Canon Elphs for a while. I loved how much capability they stuffed into those little cameras.  I also loved that I could easily slip an Elph into any pocket.  It was smaller than my wallet.

For these point and shoots I took everything in full auto mode.  The images were good for one thing…. recording events.  No fancy imagery.  But I took many thousands of images.   When they added video to the cameras….all the better.  I have lots of, not great looking, but adequate videos of my kids growing up.

And I remember looking at the DSLR guys with their huge cameras, and huge bags, and big heavy lenses, with tripods and stuff.   I thought “what a bunch of schmucks”.

They spend all of this money to haul around all of this stuff.    They must be missing all sorts of good shots of the moment.   The gear screamed “lack of spontaneity”.  I would never do anything like that.


I would see what some of my friends and relatives would do with that equipment.   It looked nothing like my stuff.   Images from a DSLR would draw you in and make you want to look at them and enjoy them for a while.   And rather than just recording an event  it would capture more than that.  Like it captured a moment in time …… its hard to explain.   But I knew that i wanted to do something like that.   BUT… NOT at the expense of all of that heavy stuff.

So I got a small point and shoot with some some manual control.   Actually for me that initially meant talking it off  A (auto) and going to P.   So now I had access to ISO adjustments and some other camera features.   The images immediately got a little better….but only  a little.   So I played around with Av (aperture mode).   And for the first time I got to see what controlling DOF (depth of field).   I was getting a taste for what you could do with a camera.   I also played around with Tv (Shutter speed) for purposely blurring motion or trying to capture droplets in a fountain.

I wanted more.    But I STILL was NOT going to get all of that big heavy CRAP!

Canon came out with a new Camera,   S1IS.  It was a crossover or hybrid or prosumer point and shoot.   I got the S3IS and later the S5IS.   It had image stabilization,   a healthy zoom, a bigger sensor, Auto, Av, Tv, and M (Manual) that were all easy to get to.   I am not sure who I was kidding.  This camera would only fit in my big winter jacket pocket….but I still proclaimed it a pocketable camera.   Somewhere in here I either added a software crack  CHDK and/or eventually Canon added RAW capability to the camera.   But I think these cameras set the stage for me to take the big leap that I had been avoiding.

The images were suddenly much better than they had been.   With the range of zoom 12X, without knowing what I was doing,  I was playing with composition.  The RAW capability was amazing to see how much more image information was available to manipulate.

It bothered me about how I had gotten to the position of getting this larger camera.    So I got a G10.  Nice little camera.  It did not have all of the zoom capability of the S5IS but it took really good picutres and RAW capability came with the camera.

I think the turning point was a wedding that I went to.  I had my S5IS.   I was able to catch some videos of the ceremony and a good collection of photos of friends and family.  But one of my relatives had a DSLR  and a huge lens, and a huge bag.

After the wedding we were sharing pictures.  I had lots of good shots.  He showed his…and they were REALLY good.  By having the right lens and controlling DOF, and being able to get good low light images…….many of his images were breathtaking.   I was jealous.   I wanted to do that.

Knowing what I know now….I might have been able to eek out something similar to the DSLR with the S5IS…. but they would not have been as good.

Around this time I started microstock photography,  that I have written about here. In a half hearted attempt to be more “DSLR-like” I got a close up and telephoto extension lenses for both of the these lenses.  They were a little awkward and did not improve the capability much.   But I was able to get accepted to all of the main microstock sites with these cameras.  But even here, as I compared my images to the ones selling well,  I could see that the camera was limiting what I could do.

So I sold all of my camera stuff.  I kept the G10 for a while but then sold that as well.

Sticker shock was a big deal.   The S5IS and G10 were in the $300-$600 range cameras.   I remember researching the hell out of those cameras before buying one because, as they say in Ireland,  they were “so dear”.   I thought THAT was expensive.   Ha Ha ha ha ha ha……

I got the cheapest Canon DSLR available, a Rebel XL (1000) with a kit lens.  I think it was a 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS lens.   Not bad for starters.   I was annoyed by the bulk of the whole thing.  But my images improved a lot.  More images got accepted and were selling at the microstock sites too.

A year goes buy and now I had a Canon 50D, with many lenses, a couple tripods, a couple of flashes, filters.  I had this great backpack that fit it all.   Fully loaded it was 38 Pounds.  I was devouring photography books and taking 1500 images a week. 

So where am I now.  I have two camera bodies, the 7D and the 5DMkII.  I made the step up to the full frame 5DMkII before Christmas and have not looked back (see previous post). I have a Sigma 50mm f1.4 (nice narrow DOF with good bokeh), a 24-105mm f4 IS (on the camera 90% of the time), 100mm f2.8 IS Macro (great for macro shot), 70-200mm f2.8 IS (wonderful images for a with good bokeh), 100-400mm (for animal shots), 2X teleconverter (don’t use much as it steals light).  Oh and my previous best lens, the 17-55mm f2.8 IS that only works on the 7D  (only for APS-C bodies) that is gathering dust.  I am going to sell it and the 7D when the 5DMarkIII comes out.  See blog entry here.










I dumped the big backpack (It was a Tenba Medium Shootout backpack).  It was great for storing the camera stuff but two things happened.  First I was robbed.  They broke into the house.  Took my Plasma tv and my laptops.   Too bad, for them, that they did not grab the backpack.  They easily could have gotten about $6-8K for all of the stuff I had in it.  The second thing is that I went for a hike with my wife and daughter.  It was a trail with waterfalls.   I had all of my stuff including a nice heavy tripod.   I nearly died….. I think we made it to the first of 7 waterfalls.  I took a bunch of shots and then asked if we could go home.

So now I carry a camera/lens  and sometimes a small 3 Million Dollar Home Crumpler bag with a lens and maybe filters. If I can convince my wife to come and help she will carry a larger 6 Million Dollar Crumpler bag with my larger lenses and a light carbon fiber tripod.  She also likes to use my monopod as a walking stick….God love her.

I like to think that I am almost as free to move about as with the point and shoot.  One thing that helps is my RS-4  Black Rapid strap.  I can wear that where the camera hangs back by my side or butt.   I feel almost no weight  (Ok…. with the 70-200 or the 100-400 I feel it but its bearable).   And I can just grab and shoot.  It feels like I am in a western movie with a gun on my belt…

I still have a newish tiny canon camera….but I know I cannot do the kind of images that I do with the DSLR…. so I never use it.   My wife uses it.

So there is how I became a “schmuck” carrying around a big heavy expensive DSLR.

Oh and there is a punch line….. I still need more lenses.  I need a good wide angle lens,  I need a fish eye lens,  I need some more primes like the 85mm 1.4  and a 300mm or higher fast prime.   And then there are all those other new lenses and DSLR’s that have not been made yet!!

Canon 5D Mark III

Posted by on Feb 16, 2011 in Blog | 10 Comments

Its here!  The Canon EOS 5D Mark III  !!!  Well at least it is on my blog courtesy of a little photoshop work.  And it could be coming out soon if you watch the forums and my favorite rumor site…. Canon Rumors.  I am guessing that there is a slight chance that we will hear about it in March/April 2011 (forum based) and a more likely time would be later in the fall 2011

Of course I want it now.   I was spoiled with the fast frame rate and excellent AF system on the 7D.   But I did not like the ISO noise performance at higher ISO’s in less well lit subjects.   The full frame 5DMarkII has a slow frame rate and an AF system that is just ok.   I think its 9 vs 19 focus points.  And I have found that the center focus point on the 5DMkII is really good.  The other points are not so good and occasionally I have to go back to just using the center.

So guess what I want in my new Canon 5D Mark III.   Well here is my list.

1. Keep the full frame
2. Increase ISO performance (acceptable noise up thru ISO 800.  How about acceptable to 3200)
3. Give me that 8f/s frame rate
4. 19 good AF points with the other 7D AF selection scheme
5. No more MP’s… I don’t think more is better and I think it creates noise
6. Price not higher than $3000

Other Nice to haves…but I would be OK if they did not do these

1. Larger Buffer for longer fast frame shooting

2. Two CF card Slots

3. Total Weather proof (I want to stand in rain and take pictures without fear)

4. Articulating LCD Viewer


Update:   I got one!!!  It had most of what I wanted.   And I am loving it!!



Whimsy Freestyle Photowalking

Posted by on Feb 2, 2011 in Blog | Leave a comment

This is a really short post on Whimsy Freestyle Photowalking.

It dawned on me that not all of posts have to be detailed, lengthy, or technical.

I was doing a photowalk yesterday and this guy pops out.  He had no fear and I could get quite close before he took off.   I don’t think that I can sell this as microstock but its a fun picture worth posting.  It’s kind of amazing the images that you can get by just walking around with your favorite camera and lens.  Don’t plan anything.  If you feel one of those deja vu moments or something catches your attention.  Get a picture of it.

Whimsy Freestyle Photowalking