Responding to popular user requests, Canon is planning to release a firmware update for the Canon EOS 5D Mark II full frame DSLR camera on June 2, 2009 that allows manual exposure control during video shooting.

The 21.1 megapixel full frame DSLR camera can shoot stunning videos but users frequently complaint about the lack of many controls that are available on camcorders that cost 1/10 of its price.  The glaring deficiencies include the absence of continuous autofocus and manual exposure control. During video shooting, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II operates in a full automatic mode with the camera selecting the ISO, aperture, and shutter speeds. With the announced new firmware, Canon EOS 5D Mark II users will be able to fully control all aspects of exposure: aperture, ISO, and shutter speed.

It is a great improvement. However in order to make video shooting on a DSLR more appealing for average video shooters autofocus is still needed.  David Pogue of New York Times thinks that “… without autofocus, an S.L.R. camera that shoots video is just a parlor stunt.” Canon does not offer any indication that autofocus will be available. In case you haven’t heard, the new Panasonic DMC-GH1 is the first DSLR camera that supports continuous autofocus during video shooting.

The following is the press release found on Canon UK website.

Following the launch of the EOS 5D Mark II in September 2008, Canon’s Research and Development team has listened closely to customer feedback to develop additions to the camera’s movie recording functionality.

Allowing EOS 5D Mark II owners to achieve even more stunning video results with the camera, the firmware update will include the following manual controls when shooting video:

  • Full aperture selection
  • ISO speed: Auto, 100 – 6400 and H1
  • Shutter speed: 1/30th – 1/4000th second

The EOS 5D Mark II integrates full HD movie capability into a high-end 21.1 Megapixel camera; opening a multitude of new possibilities for photo-journalists and news photographers. Since its launch the camera has proved its appeal to professionals working in diverse fields, from studio and wedding to nature and travel.  Now, following customer feedback, Canon has improved functionality for professional video users, further unleashing the potential of the EOS 5D Mark II for cinematographers and photographers alike.

Posted in Digital SLR Cameras on May 28th, 2009. 1 Comment.


Previously, I wrote a tutorial about a quick and easy landscape enhancement workflow in Nikon Capture NX using a snowy landscape photo as an example. The tutorial demonstrated the use of Black and White Control Points, Color Control Points (CCP), and Selection Brushes. With the release of Nikon Capture NX2, there has been a very important addition to control point tools: the Selection Control Point (SCP). In this tutorial, I will show you a very simple but effective landscape workflow that can save a dull image within minutes. Instead of CCP, I will use SCP to selectively enhance the sky without affecting the rest of the image so there is no more need to use Selection Brush to remove the effect from unwanted area. Read More…

Posted in Tips and Techniques, Tutorials on May 27th, 2009. 5 Comments.

Bob Johnson of Earthbound Light just posted an article about a source for cheap CR123A batteries.  For many, CR123A may not be a familiar battery type since most digital cameras now take either proprietary Li-Ion rechargeable or common AA batteries. Once upon a time though, many film cameras and accessories used CR123A batteries, such as Nikon N80, N75, N90, F75, F80, FM10, F100, Canon EOS Elan 7/7E/7N, Nikon SB-50DX flash, etc. Even now, they are still used in photography accessories such as Nikon SB-R200 Remote Speedlight, Sekonic L-358 Flash Master Light Meter.

These CR123A batteries are expensive compared to common AA batteries. It is perhaps not strange because of their higher voltage, energy density, and output current. The SureFire CR123A battery mentioned in Bob’s article is quite inexpensive ones you can find but there are even cheaper alternatives. Read More…

Posted in Accessories on May 25th, 2009. No Comments.

Nik Software, the developer behind Nikon Capture NX, offers a complete set of plug-in titles for Photoshop (Elements), Lightroom, and Aperture.

Dfine 2.0 is a noise reduction tool that can automatically measure noise levels in texture-free areas and reduces the noise from the entire image. You can also use control points to define where to apply or not to apply noise reduction.

Viveza is a tool to selectively enhance an image without complicated selections or layer masks known to Photoshop users. Users of Nikon Capture NX or NX2 software should be very familiar with the principles of local area enhancements using control points (U-Points) and selection brushes.

Color Efex Pro 3.0 is a large collection of digital filters and special effects tools to retouch, color correct, and stylize photos effortlessly.

Silver Efex Pro is a complete solution for converting color photos into a elegant and timeless black and white images.

Sharpener Pro 3.0 provides sharpening tools and solutions for various output devices.

In a recent blog post, Jeff Lynch of Serious Amateur Photography blog shared his Lightroom + Nik plug-in workflow. He starts with some initial editing in Lightroom such as cropping, correcting white balance, increasing the contrast and touching up any spots. He then processes the image through the Nik plug-ins similar to the recommended workflow illustrated by Nik Software. The only difference is that he runs the Sharpener Pro 3.0 twice, first right after Dfine 2.0 to selectively sharpen selected areas of the image using Raw Presharpener, then as a final step for output sharpening.

The plug-ins can be purchased separately or in various bundles from Nik Software.  15-day free trial is offered for all of their products. There is also a 30-day money back guarantee.

Posted in Other on May 23rd, 2009. No Comments.

The Internet is abuzz about an interesting iPhone (works on iPod Touch too) application developed by onOne Software, called (Canon) DSLR Remote. You can not only trigger the shutter on supported Canon DSLR cameras, but also change the camera settings, review images taken, and even take LiveView shots. It almost sounds like a magic.

Besides your Canon DSLR and either an iPhone or an iPod Touch, you will also need a laptop or desktop computer running the free companion DSLR Remote Server software, and a USB cable to connect your supported Canon EOS DSLR camera to the computer. The App communicates with the remote server software via Wi-Fi either through an access point or ad-hoc network. On the blog site of onOne Software, there is a video explaining how it works.

It might sound very clunky to lug all the hardware in the field, and the actual usefulness remains to be seen. The support of bulb mode does make long exposures especially light painting in the night easier, as pointed out by one of their potential users. For many, making their iPhone do one more cool thing is a great joy.

Based on the comments left by Mike Wong of onOne software, the shutter delay seems to be minimal. They also have heard from the Nikon camp loud and clear so if you are a fan of both Apple and Nikon, just stay tuned. Non-Apple fans are, however, out of luck.

Further reading:

Posted in News on May 22nd, 2009. 1 Comment.


Pentax’s latest K-series digital SLR camera, the K-7, has been officially announced. The mid-level DSLR features a rugged weather-sealed body, 14.6 megapixel CMOS sensor, 100% viewfinder, a 3″ 921K dot LCD screen, 5.2 frames per second (FPS) continuous shooting speed, 11 point AF sensor (9 cross types), 30 fps video shooting at [0.9M]  (1280×720, 16:9), [1.6M] (1536×1024, 3:2), [0.3M] (640×416, 3:2) resolutions using MPEG format, built-in dust removal and shake reduction, and HDMI port. Other interesting features include the ability to compose a high dynamic range (HDR) image using three photos, a built-in digital level, and in-camera editing using digital filters. The Pentax K-7 is indeed a solid offering, but the $1,299.95 body-only price seems a little high in the very competitive DSLR market. Read More…

Posted in Digital SLR Cameras, News on May 21st, 2009. 2 Comments.

Nikon Capture NX2 has only 5 blending modes while Adobe Photoshop has more than 20. Are Nikon Capture NX2 users missing out on many useful tools? Perhaps not. Adobe Photoshop is not only for digital photography, but also for a much wider applications. So some of the blending modes are of little use for photo editing or can be substituted with alternative blending modes. The purpose of this post is not to discuss the differences between Nikon Capture NX2 and Adobe Photoshop’s blending (blend) modes, but to illustrate what the blending modes do in Nikon Capture NX2. Read More…

Posted in Digital photography, Software on May 20th, 2009. No Comments.

The Camera Grand Prix, sponsored by the Camera Journal Press Club Japan (CJPC), is regarded as the most prestigious award in Japan’s photo industry. 2009 is the 26th anniversary of the award.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II grabbed the “Camera of the Year” honor while Nikon D700 won the hearts of fans by grabbing the “Readers Award“. Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 and Casio High-Speed Exilim EX-FC100 won the “Editors Award”.


Posted in News on May 19th, 2009. No Comments.
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