Blog entries from July, 2022

GPS tracks and tall buildings

Saturday, July 30th, 2022 at 09:21pm

Today I was in the city for the first day of Open House Melbourne and I have just finished geotagging the photos. My approach of shooting both JPG and CR3 so I could use the JPG for geotagging worked out ok.

I did use to tag them all and while I expected the photos taken indoors to either not have a found location or to be in the wrong location, I had forgotten how bad a GPS track around a lot of tall buildings could be:

This is a screenshot of Google Earth showing in blue the result of the GPS track, while the orange lines are indicating the path I actually took.

When I manually correct the locations on the images I am not trying to be too precise, within 5 metres maybe 10. Close enough that if you go to that location you should be able to look around and see the thing or perspective I was taking a photo of. An error of a few hundred metres might not matter much for a landscape out in the country, but in a dense urban environment I want to be close.

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In need of a new geotagging tool

Monday, July 25th, 2022 at 08:08pm

In my previous post I mentioned that I had a problem with geotagging the CR3 files from my new camera, this is that story…

I geotag most of my photos, both so that I have a record of where it was taken and so that when I share the photos (such as to Flickr) that others can also see where they were taken. Part of my trip planning is opening up the Flickr map to the areas I am going to and doing a search.

When I started geotagging the map module in Lightroom wasn’t that good, while I understand that it is a lot better now I still want to geotag before I load the photos into Lightroom so I can be sure that the files themselves are tagged, not just locations stored in the Lightroom catalog.

Two tools have served me well:

  • – a commandline tool written in Perl (which I know quite well) to geotag the image files based on a GPX track
  • GeoSetter – a free windows program that I like for manually placing images on a map or correcting the location when the GPX track isn’t quite right (eg like it does when the GPS signal reflects off tall buildings) is working perfectly, it is Geosetter where there are some problems. The program hasn’t been updated in a number of years and while it still works the Google Map is covered by a “For development purposes only” watermark. The more recent and relevant issue to me is that being old it does not have support for the CR3 format that the R6 uses. Because of this I spent around three hours looking for a replacement for Geosetter that supported CR3 files. It turns out there are very few free options and I couldn’t get any of them to work. The most promising one specifically listed support for CR3 files, but then all I could get it to recognise were JPG files, it didn’t even support CR2.

In the end I was able to geotag the photos I took at the MSTEC National Steam Centre and while it was a workaround it is possibly also an indicator of what my new process might have to be.

I had 350 images to manually geotag and I could have taken the easy way out of using exiftool to tag them all with a single location (eg the front gate), this is the workaround I came up with:

  • temporarily load all the CR3 files into Lightroom
  • export them all as JPG with the same names
  • use Geosetter to tag all of the JPG files
  • run a script that copies the GPS tags from a JPG (eg IMG1234.jpg) to the corresponding CR3 (eg IMG1234.CR3)
  • sort the tagged CR3 files into their date/time based folder and sync into Lightroom

This worked and means that for now (possibly forever…) I have changed the R6 to save both JPG and CR3 images, using the JPG for the geotagging and then only storing the CR3 files long term. Although will happly geotag the CR3 files, I will still tag the JPG files first because I use Geosetter to confirm (and fix) their locations.

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First drive without a mirror

Sunday, July 24th, 2022 at 10:24pm

I mentioned that my plan for the weekend was to get out with my new camera so today I headed down to the MSTEC National Steam Centre. It would have been better to go on a day when the engines were running, but I knew that there are plenty of interesting machinery to photograph, even when stationary.

I went light, just the R6 with 24-105mm and also the 16mm because even though I expected better low light performance than the 7D I knew that the f/2.8 would be nice when trying to get close ups indoors.

The first difference I noticed was due to the articulated screen as I am not sure if I want to have it facing in or out. I am so used to chimping after every shot so that means it should be out, but then it is always on unless I have my eye to the viewfinder. If I have the screen facing out I need to see what I can turn off with the touchscreen so I don’t accidentally change settings.

The next thing I found was that I am used to pressing the focus/zoom button on the 7D to zoom in when reviewing images. But on the R6 this is just a focus select button, you zoom with the horizontal wheel. A few times I realised that I had changed the type of focus points… will I learn to not use that button or should I customise so it is no longer focus select?

A big change is needed when I change lenses. As the 7D is a DSLR, when the camera is on not much is happening you can look through the viewfinder whenever you want and have the camera focus on something, it is only when you take a shot (or turn on live view) that the sensor is exposed. Although not quite the best practice I haven’t had issue with simply detaching one lens and attaching another one, the sensor is projected by the mirror and shutter. However with the R6 there is no mirror and the sensor is always on to capture an image for the viewfinder or display screen. I have it set so then when you turn the camera off it will close the shutter, but if I simply detach the lens then the sensor (that nice big full frame sensor) is fully exposed and as there is no mirror it is really close to the lens mount. I must re-train myself to turn the camera off and wait for the shutter to close before switching lenses.

None of what I have mentioned so far is a problem as I will need to adjust to having a new camera, however something that has now sucked up a few hours of my time is that so far haven’t been able to geotag the images I took today. I didn’t take my GPS with me as I expected that most of the photos I took would be indoors and a GPS track inside a metal building is never good. So I was fully expecting to have to manually geotag the images at home. I have previously described my geotagging process but all I will say for now is that I haven’t been able to find a tool that will work with CR3 files.

Overall it was a good day as I learned about this camera and how have a challenge in regard to geotagging…

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An expensive impluse

Friday, July 22nd, 2022 at 07:36pm

After I recently speculated about upgrading my camera I was seriously looking around for a 6D Mark II and appropriate lenses to go along with it. And I almost did it, lining up a near new 6D Mark II, and a used 24-105mm f/4L lens for $1900, with an option to also get a 17-40mm f/4L for a further $500.

But then I kept thinking and looking around…

I have not had an L lens as my everyday lens, and while the lens I would be getting with that 6D would be an L lens, it would also be an older lens. The RF 24-105mm f/4-7.1 lens has some good reviews and is only $600, while the L version is a lot more expensive at $2000. I needed to be reasonable and consider paying $600 instead of $2000.

As I looked around online (at the few stores that had a reputation I could trust) I realised that the f/4-7.1 lens came as a kit with the R6, bringing the price down a bit more. So when I saw the R6 and lens for $3700 I decided (more on impulse than I should admit) to get it.

The next item that was essential was the EF to RF adapter, looking around and comparing prices I found one for $185 including delivery.

My next consideration was a wide lens, because while I have rarely used my 10-18mm lens, it is still an option that I want to have, especially for an event like Open House Melbourne where wide angle indoors could be really interesting. With the L lens mindset the option was looking like the $2700 RF 14-25mm f/4L, which was way too much to spend on a lens I would rarely use. Then the RF 16mm f/2.8 caught my eye as if I am shooting wide then why do I need the range between 16mm and 24mm? It is also reasonably priced at around $480, in the end I got it through the ebay store of one of the online retailers because an additional discount from ebay dropped the price to $440.

When I include an SD card, lens hoods and a cable release I ordered from five different places, at which point it became a waiting game. I was surprised that the camera actually arrived from Sydney the following day, but the other items have taken longer. It has been nearly two weeks and everything except the hood for the 16mm lens has arrived, that should be here on Monday.

I have been playing around with the camera at home, including going through my what I already have to see what I have to reuse:

  • my EF 70-200 f/4L remains as my long lens (though at true 70-200mm instead of the 112-320mm cropped)
  • the 580EX II flash works well, as does the ST-E2 transmitter for that flash
  • my original 67mm adapter ring for my Lee filter holder works with the new lens (I had to get a 72mm adapter when I got the 15-85mm)
  • my older 67mm polariser will also be back in action (it is not slimline so might be introducing a slight vignette, but it will work)
  • the third party LP-E6N batteries I got last year for the 7D will work in the R6 (only the newer LP-E6NH can be charged in-camera)
  • Garmin eTrex 20x because geotagging my photos is important to me and I prefer to have a dedicated device instead of trying to use my phone to log a track
  • I transferred over the tripod plate and the WS-20 wrist strap which made it feel more it was “my” camera

I still need to think about when it might make sense to replace my long lens (and with what…) and I also need to rethink my bags. While the backpack I have still works to hold everything, I’ve also got two shoulder bags for when I am walking around with just the camera and one lens. I have my trusty Crumpler bag, but I need to work out how to also carry the 16mm in that bag. I have another Lowepro sling bag that can fit lenses and accessories, but is still not quite big enough for the camera with the lens hood on.

My immediate plan is to get out this weekend to start getting used to it before Open House Melbourne the following weekend.

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Another year of boxes

Tuesday, July 19th, 2022 at 10:25pm

Time continues to pass with things pretty much staying the same, which means that I am still getting food delivered in boxes.

Another year of boxes

This isn’t quite another 52 weeks because one box went missing from my doorstep and I paused delivery when I was away.

Overall I’m still happy with it for both adding variety to my meals as well as the convenience. I was thinking that I would have to change things up once we returned to working from an office, but that doesn’t look like it will happen…

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Is it time to upgrade my camera?

Sunday, July 3rd, 2022 at 07:28pm

My camera is still the Canon 7D and earlier this year I realised that I have had it for ten years, and I got it secondhand which means it is over twelve years since it was released. Despite the age I have been happy with it, except when I am able to directly compare the results from my camera with the results from newer cameras, so it has been in the back of my mind for a few years that it was time to upgrade.

On a few Canon Collective (RIP) events such as birds of prey and ice hockety I was able to use a 1DX which was impressive, but also way out of consideration. It was the Canon 5D Mark IV that I used on my Lake Eyre trip in 2019 that was much more reasonable. When I got home from that trip I started looking for a 5DIV, but I didn’t find any for a reasonable price and I realised that I should first get back into taking photos more often before spending money.

I barely touched my camera for the remainder of 2019 and then in March 2020 I made a resolution that if I started getting out to take photos again I could justify upgrading my camera. I even signed up and paid the deposit for a photography tour to Kakadu later in the year, with the aim to upgrade before that tour.

We all know what happened to the rest of 2020…

The tour almost went ahead in 2021…

Thankfully the 2022 attempt at the tour went ahead a few weeks ago, with Luke from NT Bird Specialists and Jay (formerly Canon Collective…) from The Photography Workshop Co being a great double act.

Azure Kingfisher Swishing Breaking breakfast Northern dwarf tree frog Head on Big eyes

Although I hadn’t upgraded my camera, I did hire a 100-400mm lens to take instead of my 70-200mm lens. I love that 70-200mm lens but I knew that it wasn’t long enough, I would need more zoom for birds and other small subjects.

Although I got a lot of great shots, being part of a group (almost all Canon and a mix of 90D, 5D, R6 and R3 bodies) also showed the limitations of my camera:

  1. newer sensors have more pixels and less noise – I had shots that I can’t use because in the low light my ISO was cranked way up and there is too much noise that not even Topaz DeNoise AI could give a decent result. However shots from others at the some time at the same ISO have come out good.
  2. eye detection autofocus – It was amazing to see how the new cameras could keep focus on the bird as it took flight, but in my case I had to track the animal myself, resulting in a lot of unusable action shots that I deleted.
  3. the viewfinder for mirrorless is a screen – No having to check the back of the camera to see if the exposure is correct, you will see it directly in the viewfinder, it was said you can control everything you need to without moving the camera from your eye.

It would be great if I could drop thousands on a new camera body and lenses, but that is not reality so I need to be more sensible.

Taking stock

I have acquired a variety of camera gear over the years, but when I think about it there are only a few key pieces:

  1. The Canon 7D body
  2. My main lens is an EF-S 15-85mm which I got in 2014 after my 17-85mm locked up on my first trip to the US
  3. My long lens is the EF 70-200mm (f/4 not the f/2.8) which I use at events like an airshow or bike race, or at a location like a zoo
  4. My wide lens is an EF-S 10-18mm which I will sometimes use for landscapes or architecture

A possibly inclusion on this list is my EF 28mm f/1.8 which I did use for a while for low light indoor (and on my Perth road trip when my 17-85mm broke) but haven’t used for a long time.

What do I want?

The single feature that I wished I had is an articulated screen as there are many times when I am holding the camera low or high and not able to see through the viewfinder. It was interesting to read back in my earlier post to see that was a compromise I made when getting the 7D.

Finally making the jump to full frame should give me the sensor size and noise improvements that I want, but those that know Canon lenses have already spotted that I would have to also replace my main lens. I would also need to replace my wide lens, and while at it it would be good to replace my long lens. So replace everything…

If I have to replace everything do I make the switch to mirrorless? If making that switch, do I even stay with Canon? I know a number of people that switched from Canon to Sony or Olympus…

A camera body new enough to have eye detection autofocus would be fantastic, but that is unlikely on something secondhand, and do I need it? It was great for wildlife photography, but that is not my normal subject. Buildings and structures do not move and don’t have eyes that need tracking…

The incremental option

This option involves sticking with Canon but switching to full frame, which will mean replacing lenses as well as the camera body. Due to the switch over to mirrorless there hasn’t been a new Canon DSLR for some time, the 5D Mark IV from 2016 the 6D Mark II from 2017 are the latest in their respective lines, meaning that the secondhand price is still reasonably closed to RRP.

Of these two I am considering the 6D Mark II as while it is in the lower range than the 5D Mark IV, it got good reviews, is slightly newer and is also half the price at $2000 instead of around $4000. There are some secondhand ones available, looking like a good condition one will go for around $1500.

Now on to lenses, to replace my main lens it makes sense to go for a L lens. The equivalent to my 15-85mm in focal range would be 24-136mm. There is no L lens with this range, the closest being the 24-105mm with the II version running $2000 new or $1000 secondhand, with the earlier version coming in around $650 secondhand.

I don’t have many options for a wide lens from Canon, they have some cheap EF-S lenses, but anything EF is L and expensive, the cheapest being the 17-40mm f/4 for around $1300 new or $600 secondhand, not sure how justifiable this is for occasional use.

I wouldn’t need to replace my 70-200mm lens immediately, but long term I would love to get a 100-400mm. Maybe one will come up secondhand for a good price, otherwise if I know of a specific event (such as an airshow) then I will consider hiring a lens. This worked out well for the Kakadu tour, but there is a point where hire costs would exceed purchase costs. I could also keep my eye out for an extender that will work with the 6D Mark II and the 70-200mm, more zoom for not as much money.

All this means is that the “budget” option would be to go for a 6d Mark II with a 24-105mm for $2000-2500. That is still a fair chunk of money and still leaves me years behind in the latest tech.

The splashy option

What would it mean to get up to date with the current technology? With the limitation of not wanting to overspend and also the caveat of (for now) sticking with Canon?

Based on discussions amongst the tour group the current choice would be the Canon R6 mirrorless body. At under two years old there is very little chance of finding this secondhand, so the only option to get below the RRP of $4000 is to wait for a special. There were some EOFY specials at around $3600, but possibly even better with Black Friday later in the year.

The main lens I would use with an R6 would be the RF 24-105mm, while there is a version for $600, if I am spending money then it makes sense to go for the L version at $2000 RRP. Combined with the body this is already putting the total at $6000 before looking at a wide lens…

Being realistic

To be honest I don’t need to spend any money, my 7D is still working great and for the amount I spent overall on the Kakadu tour (flights, accommodation in Darwin, etc) I could have instead bought a new camera, but then I would have a new camera and not have the experience of going on the tour.

I’m not going to rush into anything, and will preference spending money on going places with my existing camera over having a new camera but not going places.

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