Hi all! #TravelTuesday is here again, and the return of travel is looking more and more promising with each passing day. I can’t wait to hit the road again and dedicate more time to travel photography, entailing more travel for myself, but for now, it’s all about planning and preparation (which is a very important aspect of travel photography). I’m Dave Williams, and this week for ScottKelby.com, I want to share some pro tips to up-and-coming photographers in all fields. Let’s do this!
Number one on the list – megapixels
The whole thing about megapixels is actually a bit of a non-issue. It’s something that has continued from the inception of digital photography where there was a megapixel race involving far fewer digits than we’re used to now. That megapixel race led the consumer to choose a camera based on the number of megapixels it shot as one of the primary criteria. We’re now seeing cameras on the market that feature a megapixel capability far in excess of what we need as consumers and only actually useful if we’re producing billboard-sized masterpieces, so please don’t base your decisions on megapixels when choosing a camera.
It’s actually about the glass
Now that megapixels are out of the way, let’s talk about what you should be investing in: – glass! Our hardware is something we tend to collect as photographers. We’re all fairly hooked on our kit list, our gear, whatever else you want to label it – we’re hooked on “stuff.” When we choose our primary setup, it’s far more important to consider glass than it is the camera itself. So long as we have a reasonable, functioning camera, we can turn out a decent photo with a careful investment in a good, fast lens. Our lens makes so much more of a difference than our camera does in terms of creativity, from the size and shape of the bokeh produced, through to the capacity to let more light in and knock a background out of focus to focus attention on the subject of our images. To this end, and to reiterate, it’s more about the glass than it is the camera.
A good, solid tripod is worth an investment, too. Think about it: We balance all our expensive gear on top of a tripod. That tripod needs to be rated to carry that weight, robust enough to keep it there, and rated enough that nothing will go wrong. A good tripod or a Platypod is well worth the investment for the sake of keeping our camera and lens safe when we’re taking rock-steady shots.
Straps are exactly the same, but different. Rather than balancing our gear on top, like a tripod, it hangs down from our strap, and as such, the strap needs to be up to the task. Using a low-quality strap is a risk that’s just not worth taking. When our gear is on that strap it needs to stay there, safe from falling off.
Essentially, when it comes to gear, it’s worth some research and some wise investment. It isn’t the gear that takes the photo, it’s the photographer. The gear is what makes it easier at times and, therefore, is worth that extra bit of consideration.
Well, on Friday I talked about how I had to upgrade my Canon EOS R mirrorless’ firmware (which is an upgrade to the software inside your hardware to fix problems mostly, but also sometimes to add new features). Today, we’re looking at how to do that (in this case, for Canon cameras, but most cameras use a similar method to what I’m going to show you).
STEP ONE: Pop a memory card into your camera and Format that card. Remember, this is going to erase any images you have on that card, so make sure whatever you had on that card is backed up somewhere. Once it’s formatted, go ahead and pop that memory card out of your camera.
STEP TWO: Go to the Website of the company that makes the piece of equipment you’re updating (In my case, it was Canon), and download the free firmware update right on to your computer. In this case, Canon even has a big red “Firmware Update Now Available” badge right there next to a picture of the camera, so they must really want you to update it, right? Click the gray “Drivers & Downloads” to download the firmware to your computer.
STEP THREE: Connect a memory card reader to your computer, and pop that memory card you just formatted (back in step one), into the reader so it mounts on your desktop. Now take the firmware file your downloaded to your computer (see above left), and drag it onto the memory card. Don’t put it inside a folder on your memory card. Don’t drag the whole folder over there, either. Just take that one file (in this case, the file with .FIR as it’s file extension) and drag JUST THAT ONE FILE over onto your memory card. It should be right on the root level, so don’t drag it inside anything — just leave it out there on its own. I’m over-explaining this because this is the step where people seem to mess up. “Should I drag it inside that folder?” No! Just leave it right there at the root level.
STEP FOUR: Now that your firmware update file is on the memory card, go ahead and eject it from your card reader, and pop it back in your camera again. Go to the Settings menu and find the Firmware menu (shown here, where it’s under that “wrench” menu (for lack of a better term); in the 6th set of menus (seen above).
STEP FIVE: The last step is to click on the Firmware menu and that takes you to another screen asking if you want to update the firmware, and then finally it shows you the firmware it sees on your memory card (as shown above). Choose your new firmware update from the menu; click the OK button, and in just a minute or two your firmware update will be complete. That’s it. :)
Hope you found that helpful. :)
Coming Next Month…The “Outdoor Photography Conference”
We’re less than a month away from our two-day, two track, online event for outdoor photographers, and we want you to be a part of it.
We have an absolutely incredible list of instructors, and it’s going to a very special educational event. Here’s the link for details (if you sign up early, you save a bundle!). Hope you can make it.
Here’s to a great week! A happy, healthy, and creative one at that! :)
OK, I’m still dealing with the error problem I’m getting on my new Canon EOS R6, but I think I may have a found a solution, or a culprit, or some way of moving forward (here’s the link for more on this “Err 70” problem I’m having which shuts my camera down during my shoot).
1. Could it be a compatibility issue with my new Tamron lens?
There was a compatibility issue early on with the EOS R6 camera body and certain Tamron lenses (including my new SP 150-600mm G2 lens). So, I contacted Tamron and they checked my lens’ serial number and were able to confirm it already has the firmware update that makes it compatible with the Canon EOS R6, so it’s not that. They did offer to have me send in the lens and they would inspect all the connections and such (no charge), but I don’t think that’s the issue, so unless I hit a road block and that’s the only possible solution, I won’t need to be shipping the lens to them. High-five to Tamron for the awesome customer service either way.
2. What about my Canon EOS R6’s firmware?
This is what I think the most likely culprit is. I checked my new R6’s firmware version and even though I just got the camera recently, it was still on the original 1.0 firmware. It’s now up to firmware version 1.3.1 and I found an article where it mentions the err 70 issue, and that this addresses it. I also heard from a reader who said his err 70 issue went away after he updated his firmware, so yesterday I updated the camera’s firmware to the latest (1.3.1), and I’m hoping it fixes the issue. More on this as I keep shooting with it, but I’m hopeful.
3. Another scary possibility
I also heard from a repair tech who used to work full-time as a Canon tech guy, and he said,
“ …the error you experience (error 70) is almost always due to a defective main board in the camera. The camera may work on and off but the problem will always return, often the problem correlates to a defective memory buffer or issues within the mainboard related to power (think EOS Rebel 70D). The only way to get rid of it is to send to Canon for service.”
I hope that’s not the case, but at least since he said that, I’m mentally prepared to send the unit back if need be, but I’m hoping my updating the firmware to 1.3.1 will have done the trick. I’ll let you know if it doesn’t.
Thanks to everyone who has offered suggestions and tried to help me figure this out. There’s not many photographers out there experiencing this issue, so while it’s not widespread, it certainly is frustrating, but I will get it figured out and get back to enjoying the R6. Outside of “Err 70” it is, hands-down, the best camera I’ve ever used by far, and I am super digging it. All the more reason why I want to get it working right. :)
Have a great weekend, everybody! Wishing you good heath and happiness. :)
March 12, 2020. Thursday. Lunch time. It could have been just a regular day at the office, but it wasn’t…
The rising number of Covid-19 infections in Portugal forced me to send home everyone on my team. I grabbed a pen and wrote on our whiteboard “we will be back soon,” then turned off all the lights, and slowly closed the door while looking at the empty office that was being left behind.
On that day, I had absolutely no idea how our life was going to be impacted. I was able to anticipate a few things – and no, that did not include the rush for toilet paper – but it took me a while to realize how my photography was going to be impacted.
One of my goals for 2020 was to become a better portrait photographer. After being a landscape and travel photographer for many years, I was feeling the need for a change. I still love landscapes and I really enjoy traveling, but I was getting tired, and I needed a change and a challenge. Perfect timing, right?! A change? A challenge? Could I have asked for more?
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we were not allowed to travel anymore. I couldn’t (and still can’t) travel freely, not even within my country! Forget landscape and travel photography! I guess my new-year’s resolution of becoming a better portrait photographer had the perfect timing! Except for one reason: I had no one to create a portrait of. Now what?
During the first few weeks I didn’t even reach for my camera. Just like everyone else, I had to adapt to stay home and work from home full time. Suddenly zooming was not a thing I could do with my lens; it was something I would do on my computer.
Part of my work involves some public speaking in front of an audience, and now I had to do it from my home office. “- How am I going to do my job?!”… Enter the wonderful world of live streaming: “- I need lights! I need a chromakey green background! I need a better microphone! A video mixer! I need to learn a lot of new things! Noooo!!!” It was a bit overwhelming, but at the same time, everyone likes to get some new gear, right? Is it just me, or do you also love the smell of new recently unwrapped electronics?
While all this was happening, I was also nagging Erik Kuna so that we could an online meeting with the KelbyOne Community members. What better excuse than a pandemic?! So, on Friday, May 1, 2020, we had our first CommunityLIVE meeting: Erik Kuna, Ross Chevalier, and me as co-hosts, plus a group of around 30 members including some famous names like Scott Kelby himself, as well as Rob Sylvan, who were both kind enough to stop by. Participants liked it, so we decided to do it again (and again, and again…).
CommunityLIVE meetings are private meetings for the KelbyOne Community members. You know the KelbyOne Community, right?! If you are a KelbyOne member – and I hope you are! – and you have never visited the KelbyOne Community, you are missing a big part of your membership. If you are not a KelbyOne member, stop reading now. Open a new tab on your browser and do yourself a favor: become a member today! Now, back to where we were…
PROGRAMMING UPDATE: That TV show called “The Great Create” where I compete against another photographer, is now live. You can catch it right here.
On Friday, I gave you my initial field report on the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens, which I bought specifically for shooting airshows. After shooting more with it this weekend (as one of the official photographers for the Sun n’ Fun Aerospace Expo airshow), I like it even more. Super sharp, responsive, feels great, not too heavy — I’m loving it.
However, the same issue cropped up with the AutoFocus button turning off on the lens again, but outside of that minor nuisance, the lens is just an incredible bargain for the money (here’s the link to my post on it from Friday).
Today I’m sharing my field test on my new camera body, the Canon EOS R6, and I’m going to cut right to what it does for aviation photography (and this would also work for wildlife photography); that just absolutely blew me away. Check this out:
Your point your lens in the general direction of where you see the jet in the sky (as seen here, where the jet is still WAY far away).
2. It recognizes the moving object, snaps focus, and locks right on to it (as seen here where five focus points all hit right on it), and it now tracks along with the jet as it moves. Come on — that is crazy!!! It locks on pretty darn fast, too!
NOTE: That shot above is not a keeper — the jet is too tiny in the frame, and I don’t want to have to crop in that far to get the jet larger. It’s not going to have the sharpness we’re all looking for if you crop in that much). This is just an example of how far away the jets are when I first start trying to lock focus onto one. Once the focus is locked on and tracking with the jet, then I pan along with the jet as it gets closer and closer. When the jet gets nice and big in the viewfinder, I’m already locked on, and all I have to do is hit the shutter button to start taking shots.
Above: This is an un-cropped shot and where I’m trying to get to as far as filling the frame with the jet. Now, this shot actually does need cropping but not to make it bigger. The front of the jet is too close to the edge of the frame, so trimming the back in some would help it look more balanced). But to get to here and have the jet in razor sharp focus, I start focusing and locking on while the jet is still far away and small in the frame like you saw previously. When it starts getting closer and much larger in the frame — that’s when I start shooting.
Also, to give you those two viewfinder examples above, I had to create those viewfinders myself and put my shots inside them (thank you, Photoshop), so you could get a good idea of what it looks like while you’re actually shooting with it. Otherwise, I’d have to shoot with my iPhone’s camera stuck up to the R6’s viewfinder, and well, that all sounds like a lot more work than I’m willing to do. LOL!
The biggest thing for me was…
…I got the most number of in-focus shots I’ve ever gotten at any airshow, period! It almost felt like cheating. Not enough for me to turn these auto tracking features off, mind you, but still. I showed some other guys from the team how well the tracking worked, and they were as amazed as I was (I probably sold two or three units while I was there. Canon should give me a commission).
This miracle of focus is a simple combination of just four settings on the camera:
(1) High speed continuous shooting mode (burst mode)
(2) Switching from Single Shot focus (for non-moving objects) to Servo AF mode (which is the Continuous Auto Focus Mode)
(3) Using the Large Zone AF Horizontal Auto Focus mode (great for tracking objects that move horizontally across the frame).
(4) Using the “Case 2” Focus mode, which is for tracking moving objects while ignoring obstacles that might get in the way (like another jet passing by).
Note:Tip of the hat to my wonderful techie/nerdy friends Larry Grace (President of the ISAP – International Society of Aviation Photography, and one of the top aviation shootesr out there) and my Grid co-host and serious techie wonderland Erik Kuna, as they helped me with some of my settings on this new set-up, and for aviation photography in general, so a big shoutout to them both.
I will say, when you first start shooting aviation with an Electronic Viewfinder, it’s a little weird because as you crank off a rapid series of shots, each one appears for a moment on screen inside your viewfinder. This is both a blessing and a curse (more on the blessing part in a moment), but it does take a little getting used to, as it feels almost like it’s stuttering, while you’re tracking the jets, but when you stop and review your shots, you’ll see it’s clearly not. Definitely a different experience from shooting with a DSLR, but you get used it quickly.
Something Else I Loved
Another great feature of the R6 (and the blessing I mentioned above) is that you don’t need to pull the camera away from your eye and bring up the images on the screen on the back of your camera. Your images, as you take them, appear right on your viewfinder, and you go back and review your images (basically, you can “chimp”) through your viewfinder, and the images look large and bright and crisp even if it’s incredibly bright and sunny out. You try this a little bit, and you’ll find yourself looking at the back of your camera less and less. It’s really a huge advantage for anybody shooting outdoors in daylight.
I did run into a problem
So I’m up on this 1-story platform out near the taxiway they had set up for the official airshow photographers, and I’m warming up doing some slow shutter speed panning because we’re shooting prop planes, and I’m excited because I haven’t really had a chance to shoot my favorite WW-II prop driven fighter/bomber, the P-51 Mustang, and it’s coming up next. Then this happens:
This is not what you want to see during your shoot, but I quickly followed the instructions because now the P-51 is taking off, and I don’t want to miss it. I missed it. Turning it on/off didn’t do the trick. I reinstalled the battery numerous times — that didn’t do it. There go two or three more passes of the P-51, and I’m still futzing around trying to get the camera to come on. All I get is this screen or a completely black screen (as if the camera is off). While I’m doing this, Erik pulls out his photo and looks up what an Error 70 is, and it says it’s a “data error,” so I pop out each of the memory cards, one by one, using the process of elimination. Finally, it fires up, and I think it’s fixed. I’m wrong. It goes right back out again. I switched cards again. No luck. Finally, I popped in a completely different new fresh battery, and that did the trick. Of course, I completely missed the entire P-51 routine and photo pass and everything, but at least my camera was working again.
It happened the next day again. It happened again on Sunday during the Warbirds demo. It happened just now as I’m writing this article (I had to double-check something in the viewfinder). I popped a different battery in, and now for whatever reason, it’s working again.
So, at this point, I feel like either:
a) Something is wrong with a number of my Canon-brand batteries (these weren’t knock-offs, except for one Erik gave me Friday afternoon but that one worked fine), or
b) There’s something wrong with my R6.
Either way, the last thing you want is your camera going down in the middle of the shoot, and just putting “Error 70” on the back of the camera, and not at least saying what the issue might be, is just this side of useless. It wouldn’t haven’t cost Canon anything extra to put “Error 70: Data Error,” or “Battery error” so at least I could also check my memory cards or battery issue, which they could have said on screen as well. That’s just straight-up lousy User Interface design.
Anyway, I’ll be spending some time this week trying to figure this Error 70 problem out. I’ll search for Firmware updates and the such, but that was pretty aggravating, to say the least, and obviously, I’m still dealing with this issue. After searching online, I see a few other people have had this same error, but not a ton of folks, so the quick answer isn’t easily found out there.
Back to Good Stuff
I used both super-fast UHS-II SD Lexar memory cards in the R6 and some of my older slower Lexar cards as well (not crazy slow, but not nearly as fast as those newer UHS-II cards), and I never “filled the buffer” or got any stuttering, which was great. I felt I could fire as long as I wanted without hiccuping, and I was shooting in Raw the whole time. Maybe I just didn’t hold the shutter button down long enough (LOL!), but I never had a single buffer issue the entire two days I was there.
There are lots of other great features about the Canon R6 (dual card slots, built-in focus stacking, super incredible high ISO performance, in-body stabilization, etc.), but for what I was doing (shooting jets and prop planes streaking across the sky), I only used a minimal amount of what the R6 can do. I never even swiveled out the LCD screen, for goodness sake (my single favorite feature for shooting landscape and travel and automotive). So, this wasn’t’t a full review of the camera and all its features — by now you’ve probably read and memorized all the specs — but I wanted to give you a real-world look at what it’s like shooting aviation with it out in the field.
More to come on this new rig as I get a chance to shoot with it a bit more with different genres and shooting situations. Still, I can tell you, at this point, I am absolutely in love with the combination of that Tamron 150-600mm paired with the Canon EOS R6 for aviation photography. For the killer prices of the two, their smaller sizes and weights, it’s a tough combo to beat. I’ve just got to get that Error 70 issue addressed (and I will, one way or another).
The Sun n’ Fun Aerospace Expo Rocks!
The Sun n’ Fun Aerospace Expo is one of America’s largest airshows, and it’s so well run from top to bottom and just so much fun for everybody. If you haven’t been, it’s worth the trip down (and there’s LOTS of on-site camping right in the middle of it all).
A special thanks to the awesome folks at Sun n’ Fun for having me on their official photography team this year, with a special thanks to the wonderful Joe Caccioppo and the great crew he put together. Such a great guy and team leader. So organized and helpful (he really knows this stuff inside and out). Also, the folks at Sun n’ Fun fly-in set up the photographers for success, providing a fantastic home base and lots of ways to make great shots, and I can tell you, all the show photographers sure appreciated it big time. It was a treat!
Anyway, I hope you found that field report, helpful. If you have any questions, you can hit me up here on the comments, or bop over to my Facebook page where I’ll be answering questions over there as well. Here’s to a great week — hope yours is a safe and happy one!
Yesterday was warm-up day for the great Sun-n-Fun Fly-in in Lakeland, Florida (it’s one of the premier airshows in the country), and Erik Kuna and I are among the crew of official airshow photographers, and this was a perfect opportunity to try out the very lens I bought for aviation photography — the Tamron 150-600mm Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens (shown below). I’m sharing some shots here from yesterday’s shoot.
I had sold my Canon 200-400mm f/4 a few months ago (the one I used for shooting NFL day games), and I was looking for something lighter and more importantly for aviation, longer. Earlier this year Erik and I shot the Alliance Airshow over in Sanford, Florida (the Thunderbirds were there), and I shot with a 100-400mm it was just not long enough. You need at least a 500mm (like a 100-500mm), which I was going to get until a friend turned me on to the 150-600mm, which is a great range for shooting at airshows where so much of the action happens quite a ways from you.
Another thing I wanted was something less expensive (the Canon is around $12,000, but the Tamron is only around $1,200 — so the Canon costs literally 10x more). Although I loved every Tamron lens I’ve owned, I was concerned how well it would do, tracking along with the incredibly fast jets, but this particular lens was suggested to me by other aviation photographers, so I figured they would be bragging on it if it wasn’t worth using at airshows.
It looks like a fairly long lens when you’re out shooting it, but a lot of that is (thankfully) the lens hood. The lens weighs less than 4.5 lbs, and using it all day at the airshow was never an issue for me. I had the Canon 200-400mm with me back in 2019 at the Houston airshow and I was careful only to lift it right before I was going to shoot it, because it was a beast. Not a problem when you’re shooting football with it on a monopod, but honestly it’s too heavy to use handheld, although you’ll occasionally see somebody doing it (like me back in 2019).
This afternoon I’m back out shooting with it again on the first big day of the airshow, and unless something unexpected happens with the lens (like happened with my new Canon R6 — more on that on Monday), this lens is a champ!!! It hit the five things I was looking for in an aviation lens:
It had length and flexibility with that 150-600mm range. On the money, and I was all over that range during the day. When they’re flying in formation, it’s great to be able to back out to 150mm, but then you can start tracking the jets so far out, and fill the frame when otherwise the jets would look tiny.
It’s nice and sharp. I was pleasantly surprised with the sharpness. It hard to judge the sharpness on the edges, but all I have on the edges of my images are sky or clouds, but the jets were very sharp, so that’s big.
The focusing performance was very good all the way, and I was able to grab the jets and lock on quickly without feeling any real lag, which is important.
It’s not lightweight, but yet it’s not too heavy, and I can fit it in my smallest think thank photo rolling bag (it’s kind of a half-height bag) because the lens tucks back in to the body, and extends out when you zoom in.
The price post is just crazy for the value.
By the way — I’m using this lens on my Canon EOS R6 mirrorless, using the Canon lens adapter. No issues there whatsoever. Works like a champ.
This might sound kind of weird, and maybe it’s just me, but a number of times during the day, the switches on the side of the lens got changed. I’d lift the camera and try to shoot, and everything is out of focus. Why? The auto focus button was somehow switched off to Manual focus. This happened a number of times. Also, the Focus Limiter button would be switched to different settings. Again, this happened a few different times during the day — I have no idea why. The fix is, of course, to switch them back, which isn’t a big deal the first time or two. Anyway, that’s about it thus far.
The Bottom line
Overall, I felt the performance was really solid; the lens felt snappy all day, and I can’t wait to shoot again with it today at the show. Overall, I’m pretty thrilled with it so far. Again, if anything changes I’ll let you know.
Hope you get some great shots this weekend (if you see me at the airshow, be sure to say hi), and I hope to catch you back here on Monday. :)
P.S. After the Blue Angels were done with their afternoon session, and they were taxiing down the runaway in a single file row, we got a surprise flyover by the US Air Force Thunderbirds flying in formation on their way to an airshow on Cocoa Beach, Florida. It’s rare to see both the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds in the same place at the same time. What a treat!