All posts by David Allen

Capturing the Kiss on the Beach

The Kiss

While I was taking my break at work yesterday I sat on a park bench near to the beach so that I could take pictures of people as they went past. I had my Sony NEX-6 camera with me and expecting to get better photographs than I had done with the Samsung Galaxy S3 camera phone on the day previous. I only had the kit lens with me on my Sony which goes from 18 mm to 50 mm and so I could have been sitting a little closer to my subject matter. Unfortunately, I was unable to move the park bench. Anyway I did have a little bit of zooming available with the lens and I had and I said it to the longer part of the zoom available. I still ended up with a lot of foreground in pictures as you will see I didn’t with a lot of foreground and the picture.

Going for the prime

If I hadn’t been having a good break from work or perhaps will be more inclined to get up onto my feet and to change the point of view and composition that way. Or maybe would have been better for me to be using the new adapter I have with the Canon mount super zoom lens that I bought last year. The new adapter that I have does give me control over the aperture which is good and it does also do the autofocus. The problem is that the autofocus is dreadfully slow and it is unusable for quick capture, people moving type of scenes.

I do have the 16mm prime lens which is very good for street photography and I like using. It wasn’t going to be suitable for the photography is going to be able to do on this day. As we all know it is the glass that is important with your photography equipment and so I will keep on the lookout for good quality lenses that I can add to my camera bag. I can see that I will be staying with Sony for some time so spending some money on lenses is not really a problem. The only thing is that if I move to a full frame camera like the Sony a 7, that uses different lenses although it is possible to use the SEL lenses on it.

Here is the image before I did anything with it.

Kissing One 00283

Here are a couple of versions of the image at I make some adjustments. I applied some filters using Intensify Pro and then I did some cropping in Aperture on my Mac. I had rather a lot of sand in the foreground which was uninteresting so that had to be cropped out and in the end it gave me a photo that was almost a panorama view of the scene.

Changing the emphasis and the story

In this version of the image I follow the suggestions of my wife to crop in much closer and we found that it gave us a different story. The couple are still kissing in front of the beach and a blue sky that the emphasis is more upon them than it is of the playground and the rest of the beach.

Learning More about processing photos

Learning more photo applications and doing more with photos

I bought the upgrade from SnapHeal to SnapHeal Pro today and mainly because it works as a plug in from Aperture. Aperture is where I do all my photography work so it is the best place to get access to the 3rd part apps – As a plugin. Same with the Photomatix Pro the HDR application and also Intensify Pro. I am not always going to put a photo through all of the plug ins available, but there could be times when I start work with three bracketed exposures in Photomatix Pro and then use SnapHeal to remove something from the image to finish off. I can do things like adding a vignette in Aperture, but I get better controls over the final look in Intensify Pro.

SnapHeal

When you get into using SnapHeal you will be amazed at how it does such a great job of removing things from an image. You really can take things out of a photo and not know that there was ever anything there. I showed what the app can do to my wife and her face lit up with incredulity. It is really easy to use, you just brush the area that you want to delete after changing the brush size to best suit the size of the object. There are a couple of settings that you can change, but basically all you need to do is to click on the button Erase and ‘poof’ it is gone. It really does seem like magic when you use this application.

Get in line

I have found that if I need to erase something that is a straight line, all I need to do is to click on a start point and then move to the end of the line, hold down the shift key and click again.

Not just for the erasing of objects in photos

Sometimes it is necessary to work on the image little bit more manually and you can do that within Snapheal Pro by using the clone tool. You can also use tools for brushing the mask on and brushing the mask off and you can even do selection of the shape with a sort of Lasso tool. You get the choice of going polygonal or freehand. Mostly Snapheal is famous for its ability to raise objections in a photograph but it also has retouching and adjustment tools. These can be applied to either the whole photograph or to the area that hasn’t been masked with the masking tools.

Saving and sharing

Before you decide that you have finished your work you may choose to have a look at your work as before and after any changes. If you hold down on the icon that looks like and eye in the toolbar you can toggle changes that you have made on and off. There is another icon which will allow you to see both of your before and after images side-by-side.

When I have completed all of the work on a photograph there are a number of things I can do with it. You can just click on save and it will go back into Aperture if you have launched into it as I plug-in. Or you can use one of the sharing options available if you have opened up the application as a stand-alone.

NEX-6 Camera applications – Time-Lapse

Using the extra applications with the Sony NEX-6

You can extend the functionality of your Sony NEX6 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera 16.1MP with 16-50mm Zoom Lens – Black
by purchasing some of the extra applications available from the Sony Play Mobile site. There are also one or two free applications which you can use, such as the one which allows you to use an Android or an iOS device to be a remote controller for the camera. I have downloaded the free applications and I have bought a couple of the paid for applications that I thought looked interesting. One of the paid applications is called Time-lapse and it does what it says on the tin, that is to allow you to capture a set of photographs at intervals and combine them into a movie. I was able to do this with my Canon 600D when I had the free extra application called Magic Lantern. You can use this timelapse application to take pictures of clouds scudding across the sky when you can hardly see that they are moving because they are going so slowly. It can also be interesting to use this timelapse application to shoot a short movie of a scene in a street, especially if you view from high above.

Getting started with using the application Timelapse on the Sony NEX-6

The first thing to do is to get the application onto your camera and to be perfectly honest I am not terribly impressed with how easy it is to buy applications from the Sony application store. I had one or two problems with getting my second purchase from the site even though the first one was easy enough. In the end, to get around the difficulties I had and buy a PlayStation card so that I could put money into a Sony account. I was then able to use that value in the Sony account to buy the applications. The applications tend to be either available for free, £3.99 or £7.99 and the timelapse application was in the higher bracket.

After installing the application on the Sony NEX6 Camera
, about six days later there was an update to it, version 2. If you also have version 1 and you need to upgrade to version 2, you can’t just click on the update button on the website while you have your camera attached. What you have to do first of all is to go into the Application Manager on the camera and to delete the previous version and then click on install. The USB connection to the camera and the installation process seems a little bit flaky at times and there is a possibility you may need to try more than once to get it to work.

NEX-6 Timelapse

Themes within the Timelapse application on Sony NEX-6

The themes are really just presets and they are a good start for your first recording of timelapse movies. I would recommend that you try out the presets which suits best the movie that you are making. Apart from the standard timelapse preset there is one for a night scene, another for sunrise or sunset, miniature, night sky, cloudy sky and then there is the one called custom. If you start off by using the standard setting you can take those initial settings and change some of the parameters within that. From the information page that is for the theme you can go to the options and for each theme there are five pages of options to play with. In some themes some options can’t be changed. There is a timer which you can turn on or off, if you have it on then you have a two second self timer. Within the standard theme settings on page 2 you can change the movie size and go for either 1080p or 720p. On page 3 you can change the focus mode and the focus area and you can also change the exposure compensation.

Sony NEX6 timelapse 2

You can also go into the application settings for the theme so that you can sort out exactly what you want for the time lapse in terms of frames per second, interval, the number of shots and in some of the themes you can choose the automatic exposure, whether it should have tracking or not. It is in this area that you will see how long it is going to take for you to record the final length of your video interactively as you change the length of the interval and the number of the shots. For a standard timelapse the default is 24 frames per second with a two second interval and 240 shots giving you a final length of video of 10 seconds and it tells you that it’s going to take eight minutes to complete this process. If you make any changes to the default settings, don’t worry as there is a option for you to reset to the default on the Sony NEX6 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera 16.1MP with 16-50mm Zoom Lens – Black
.


NEW KIT ALERT

I just bought a DURAGADGET Double Zip Black And Red Protective Case so that I can keep the camera safe in my back pack. It is a bit more bulky but at least it isn’t going to get scratched.

Intensify Pro used on my photos

There was an offer on a website recently, MacHeist, that often has bundles of software available with amazing discounts. The latest offer included the application Intensify Pro. I had been trying the software previously, but didn’t buy it because I didn’t want to spend the money. The other software that was in the MacHeist bundle wasn’t really interesting to me, but at the same time the price overall was $40 cheaper than buying the application from the developer direct.

What does Intensify Pro do?

What the application is, is a set of adjustments and filters for photos to enhance to a greater level than is possible that I can already do within Aperture. There are a number of presets which work in the same way as other applications giving you filters to turn a good photograph into something that looks like it should be thrown into the Instagram bin (Or not!). This doesn’t mean that you can’t work with these filters in a subtle way.

I like the photos that I put up for public viewing to be full of power and punch and possibly I would use these settings a little bit further than would some other photographers. It is possible with this application to get an effect that goes along the lines of high dynamic range HDR photos. There are not quite the same number of possibilities for HDR as I would get by using three bracketed images and the application Photomatix Pro. At the same time though, there are a huge number of settings that can be twiddled with and fiddled with to give a massive range of effects.

Working with Intensify Pro as a plug-in through Aperture

Fullscreen 10 01 2014 15 25 3

It is very easy to select a photograph in Aperture and to use the menus to get to plug-in applications available such as Intensify Pro. You are taken directly to the plugged-in application where you can make all the changes that you want to make to the photo. As soon as you click on the button to apply the changes that you have made, the application closes and takes you back into Aperture. The version of the photo in Aperture is not altered and your new photograph is added to a stack next to the original.

Stacking the layers in Intensify Pro

It is possible to make a range of settings using one of the tools in the application and it is also possible to vary that affect by using the opacity tool. What you can also do is to add another layer where you use a different type of set of settings and once again use the opacity tool. With this you can further intensify your photograph with an infinite number of visual possibilities.

There are brush and eraser tools that you can use to mask on and off the effects that you are applying and there is even a gradient tool. This could be very useful where you want to have a colour or affect applied to the photograph in a way that only affects the top or the bottom of the photo and is gradually changed in intensity across the photo.

Intensify Pro

Getting creative with Intensify Pro

There are a lot of choices that you can make with both the presets that are available and the settings used to make those presets. With all of this configurability you can make both stunning and also dreadful images. It is known already that the beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I say that if you like it then do it. We should all be making images that are for ourselves and our own artistic sensibilities and are not just there to please the general public. Now go and create something!

Going over to the dark side – Evil photography

When it was time for me to buy the Canon 600D I was thinking about buying an EVIL camera. EVIL camera stands for Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lenses and the way that I see it is that this is a step forward from the old technology of cameras having a mirror inside them. It seems to me, to be a little bit weird that there is this bulky mechanical structure inside a camera that flips a mirror up and down so that you can see what the sensor will be seeing in a viewfinder. To be honest though, it is only since the advances in the video screens being able to show at a very high resolution that these electronic viewfinders have really become properly useful. I have recently bought a Sony NEX-6 and the Sony cameras have the best of the electronic viewfinders that are available. The other camera that has the electronic viewfinder that is very good is the Panasonic GH3 and I would suspect that the Olympus cameras also have decent electronic viewfinders. It wasn’t that it was something new bright and shiny and more modern than the old way of doing things with the mirrors that drew me towards a mirrorless camera, it was more about the size and weight. On our last trip I took my Canon 600D and I used it quite a lot. However, there were a number of times when I didn’t want to carry it with me because the camera is so big and heavy. I really didn’t want to have to lug around a huge lump of a camera in my small rucksack.

Choosing which mirrorless camera to buy

There were one or two cameras that took my fancy, I had been thinking along the lines of a Panasonic -GH3
. This is because it had gained a very good reputation for being good for shooting video and it even has an input for a microphone which is very important for video. I had also been looking at the Sony NEX7 Digital Compact System Camera with 18-55 Lens Kit
because this also has a microphone input. In the end my decision was based upon the quality of the camera that I could afford. The Sony NEX6 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera 16.1MP with 16-50mm Zoom Lens
which is the camera I bought is newer than the Sony NEX 7 model and has a few features that the 7 doesn’t have, such as Wi-Fi. In the end I found that I’m not particular bothered about the microphone inputs because I can record myself using a small clip-on microphone recording into my iPhone. It is very easy for me to be able to match the audio from that microphone to the audio being recorded simultaneously with the microphones directly on the camera. Thank goodness we have this synchronisation available in Final Cut Pro X.

Shooting photos with the NEX-6

NEX 6 NEX 6 Overview NEX6B CE NEX6 Sony

When I first got the NEX-6 the biggest problem that I had was to change the menus from Chinese to English. I couldn’t read the Chinese characters in order to be able to know where the setting was within the huge set of menus within the camera. What I had to do in the end was to find a listing online of the menus and then to start out either the top or the bottom and do some counting. When you have a new camera with a different menu system even when it is in your own language it all seems a little bit Chinese anyway. So I needed to spend two or three days just fiddling around with the settings for the camera before I could really get into properly taking any pictures.

I even bought a book from Amazon which had a more readable version of the facilities and what the camera could do than is available with the official manual. To a large extent the manual just tells you where things are and what they are called, but doesn’t go anywhere near to explaining what these different settings can do and what you would use them. This is where the book which is called ‘Sony NEX-6: From Snapshots to Great Shots
‘ by Jerod Foster came in handy. There was some information in the book which I didn’t really need where he talks about some of the basics of photography such as how to deal with Aperture, shutter speed and ISO setting. Nor did I need that much information about why you would use shutter speed priority or aperture speed priority and when you might decide to go for full manual settings. However, it was very useful in terms of there being a fair amount of detail with regards the settings specific to this camera. I found a number of things on the camera that were useful to me due to this book.

Out with the old and in with the new

When you make a drastic change from one manufacturer’s cameras to another is that often you will have to do also change a load of other photography extras at the same time. So you might normally have to sell all of your lenses along with the camera bodies and to start fresh with the new lenses that work with the new camera. Fortunately with this Sony camera NEX system this is not necessarily the case. I have been able to get an adapter which will let me use the Canon mount EOS lens that I only bought a few months ago and still be able to get good use out of it. There are adapters available that will let you connect up to the electronic parts of the lens, but they are quite expensive. I bought one that cost about 10 Euro and I can use it by manually focusing. The manual focus is made very easy by the use of helpful focus zebra marks. These are colourful lines that appear on the edges of things when they are in focus you can choose to see these in either red, white or yellow and I prefer the yellow colour. This makes it a cinch to get your photograph in focus just where you want it to be completely sharp.

Not only can I use lenses which are relatively new it is also possible to use vintage lenses, once again by using an adapter. The advantage of this is that you can get good quality fast lenses within a F stop of 1.8 or even 1.4 and the best of all, is that you can get them very cheaply from eBay. I have a Canon FD 50 mm 1.8 and adapter and I expect to be able to use this to get some very good photographs with very good bokeh. All in all the Sony NEX6
is a very versatile camera indeed with software that at first seems quite complicated, but is actually very easy to use. It is also possible to buy a specific Sony LA-EA2
which allows you to use the Sony Alpha amount camera lenses. Lots of options for lenses for the Sony NEX system.

Hello mirrorless and goodbye forever DSLR

So what I have now is a camera which technically is as good as the Canon 600D
. Specifically it is the same size sensor exactly, but with better software in a body which is smaller and lighter. The best camera in the world is the one that you have with you and with this camera being so easy to put into a bag and carry you can understand why some people would say that this is the best camera. I can see that this camera will be just the job for a good number of years and the only camera which is otherwise lust worthy at the moment is the Sony A7 which has the full frame sensor.

How useful is Magic Lantern Software on the Canon 600D

Using Magic Lantern on the Canon 600D

When you get a new camera, even if it is one that is an upgrade to a model that you have owned previously, you need to spend time learning all of the menus in the camera software. Cameras are getting more and more complicated and sophisticated, so without a doubt you need to spend some time delving into the insides of the operating system. My Canon 600D is pretty intuitive to use, certainly as far as the various modes of taking pictures. I do use manual mode on occasions and I particularly like the ease of using aperture priority or shutter speed priority. I don’t tend to use the program mode setting that is the P setting that some beginners seem to think stands for professional.

Magic Lantern Firmware Wiki

Even more complicated with the addition of Magic Lantern

There are a few additions that you get by the use of Magic Lantern and the main one for me is the fact that it gives me some meters for the levels of the sound recording. This is particularly important for me as I bought the camera mainly for the purpose of recording video. Magic Lantern does also add settings for HDR bracketed shots. It is possible to do that with the standard software, but I can do it quicker with Magic Lantern.

If I decide that I would like to do some timelapse photography, there are some excellent extra tools within Magic Lantern. The intervalometer is very easy to set up, so that I can record a clip every certain number of seconds. I can set the duration for the video clip, for example I might ask it to stop recording after four seconds. If I am running a timelapse which is going from day to night I can also use a setting which will take care of bulb ramping.

There are also a number of focusing tools available. You can do things like turn on the Trap Focus. There is also a simple follow focus that you can operate using the arrow keys. Within the focus settings there are plenty of settings to play with and really it is recommended to have a good read of the manual for Magic Lantern.

Magic Lantern tweaks

It is all well and good that on camera, you also have some help information for Magic Lantern. To get to this you click on the info button on your camera while you have the Magic Lantern menus in front of you. The help that you get depends upon exactly what you are looking at in the menus. Looking through all of the menus within Magic Lantern, I have to say that there are some weird and wonderful menu options. One of the options is to click on the button which says ‘Don’t click me!’ The hint at the bottom of the screen tells you that if you do click it, the camera may turn into a 1DX or may explode. Obviously the developer of the Magic Lantern software has a sense of humour.

Installing Magic Lantern can be tricky

Well it can be tricky, but I honestly found it easy enough by just carefully following the instructions that came with the software. You have to install the Magic Lantern software on each of the memory cards that you use in the camera. This way the Magic Lantern software is able to work as an add-on to the standard Canon camera software.

Where I tend to have most difficulty using this Magic Lantern, is in the area of knowing which buttons to press to change the ISO setting. I really need to spend some more time studying how the whole thing works. When you are out and about and you want to take some photographs, you really don’t want to spend all of the time struggling with menus. Like most things that involve software with numerous menus, capabilities, functionality and complicated stuff, it is really best to learn these things one small step at a time.

Excellent software – Well worth having

That is no doubt that within the DSLR filmmaking community that the Magic Lantern software is highly regarded. There are many that consider that Magic Lantern is an essential step to take when you are using cameras, such as the Canon 550D. 600D or the Canon 5D Mark 2. Certainly the extra software is very useful and well worth getting, you just have to spend the time to get to know the ins and outs of how it works, that’s all.

I will make some more posts on here looking at Magic Lantern in more depth. I will dive into one section at a time and post my findings on the Spondicious Blog.

Shooting Nature in Alquézar in the foothills of the Pyrenees

A photography trip to Aragón

It was Easter weekend and it seemed that we should get away and do something rather than hanging around the house. So we went to a place called Alquézar in the region of Aragón. This region is not quite the Pyrenees and it is more large hills rather than mountains. There was plenty of landscape and nature to use as subject matter for photography. I had my Canon 600D in my hand, just about the whole time while there.

High saturation and contrast equals good art

The town itself was extremely picturesque, as a lot of money had been spent on the restoration of the old town. It is quite reminiscent of Pals which is closer to home. Lots of small streets that were quite like a maze and there was even a street called Calle Dragones, Dragons Street. Many of the photographs that I shot while in Alquézar were to be HDR photos, that I intended to work on later, back at base on the computer using the application Photomatix Pro. I am finding though, that when using RAW photos I can get the sort of image that I like, just using a standard RAW image adjusted in iPhoto. I like to have photos that have bright colours and high saturation and a good amount of contrast. They don’t necessarily look totally realistic, but they are in my opinion, good art.

Using Photomatix Pro

This application has improved since I first bought it and it has a number of default options that you can use. Initially there were only two options originally, one was Tone Mapping which was the one that I chose to get the typical HDR image. The other setting to something which was more like a standard photograph, but with a slightly wider range of tones. With the later version of Photomatix Pro, you get defaults such as Enhancer grunge, painterly, Compressor default or Compressor deep and Fusion intensive or Fusion two images. So you have three basic styles – compressor, fusion and enhancer. My favourite would probably be the Compressor – Deep default setting.

It depends upon the photo

If you have a photo that doesn’t have much sky in it, then the Enhancer – Painterly can look quite good. Using the same settings on an image with a lot of blue sky can look awful. Using the setting of Enhancer – Grunge will look pretty awful whatever photo you are using it with. The 11 default settings that you have available that are going to get started, but you can also make further adjustments to the way the photo is processed finally.

You can also decide to first of all choose the process you want to use, either tone mapping or exposure fusion and then just play with the sliders until you get something you like. It would be a good idea then, to save your setup as presets for yourself to use later. The number sliders that you get to play with depends upon the choice of process and method which is your starting point. You can make it so that the photo will have all of the details enhanced, so that you have an ultra-sharp image that is hyperrealistic. Or you can have the tone compression which gives a smoother look. Once you have chosen your required look, you just have to click on process and then save the image. See below for examples of the same image with two different conversions. The first one is the painterly effect and the other uses the compressor deep effect.

Painterly

Photomatix Pro Painterly HDR

Compressor Deep

Compressor deep Photomatix Pro

Stuck in Customs

The person that is most famous online for his HDR photography is a fellow called Trey Ratcliff, otherwise known as Stuck in Customs. He does some amazing shots all around the world and I have been following his work on Flickr for a few years now. Interestingly, it was Trey who has recently suggested that the EVIL cameras are very likely to be taking over from the cameras with mirrors in them, the DSLR cameras that we are used to presently, in the next couple of years. I am discussing this type of camera, the Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens, on the EvilPhotography website. I almost wish that I had bought the Panasonic GH2 or waited for the Sony NEX–7 rather than the Canon 600D, even though there are some advantages to having the Canon.

Meanwhile back in Alquézar

I had a very enjoyable time taking around 400 photographs while in Alquézar. Of course, all of the photos were nature type photos, which is okay, even though I do more often have the urge to take urban grunge type images. I was quite pleased to shoot an image of a flower, just because it was the smallest ever daffodil, narcissus flower that I had ever seen. The images that were shot of the town were all very picturesque and could not at all be described as urban. Certainly I could have spent another couple of days shooting photos in this region.

Getting a good lens for DSLR video

It is all about the glass – The Canon nifty 50

For taking good photographs and getting that narrow depth of field with your subject perfectly in focus and the background nicely out of focus you need to have a faster lens. Opening up the aperture so that you have it as wide as the lens will let you go gives you the narrower depth of field. So being able to go to F 1.8 with the Canon nifty 50 lens will be better than using the kit lens which will only go to about F 3.5. There are other benefits to having a faster lens the main one being that you can let more light reached the sensor. You will be able to get better pictures by being able to let more light through.

Not perfect but very good value for money

Canon has made this F1.8 available at a very good affordable price, somewhere around the $100. My son has one of those Canon lenses that he uses on his Canon 550D and he wants to buy an even better lens. I am lucky that he is willing to sell me his nifty 50 Canon lens. The nifty 50 lens may be a cheap lens but it does give you good results.

Video and Still Photos with the Canon 600D

Hello and welcome to Spondicious Photography website. What I plan to do with this website is to talk about my camera experiences and how I will use the new camera that I have just bought, which is a Canon 600D which is also known as the T3i. Mainly I planned to buy this camera because of wanting to have more control over the video that I can shoot. Up until now for the video I have been using a Canon Vixia to shoot video. It is a good video camera and gives me good results, but is not quite so easy to set up and control. Especially things like the white balance, which I have to change when I am working with my green screen. I will still be using the Canon Vixia, so it will be handy to have two cameras to use on a video shoot.

David with Canon 600D

The decision process for buying this latest camera

My son has the Canon 550D and it is a very good camera that produces excellent results. I would have bought the same camera, but I do need to have the swivel video display on the rear. This is because often I am filming myself without any help and I need to be able to see what is I’m shooting. There are not many other differences between this camera and the 600D that I purchased. Just like with using the 550D I’m also able to add the Magic Lantern software to the 600D to add extra functionality to the camera.

The camera that I looked at that I would perhaps preferred to have bought, was the Panasonic GH2 which has a very good reputation for shooting video. It has less of a problem with the rolling shutter effect, which is to do with lines that are introduced into the pictures when you do a fast pan from left to right or right to left. The Panasonic also has the ability to follow focus which is very useful when you have the subject coming towards you or going away from you while shooting video. With the Canon you would probably have to follow the focus manually and depending on the lens that could be a little bit fiddly.

There were a number of reasons which brought me to buying the Canon 600D instead of the Panasonic and the first of those reasons was the cost. The Panasonic was quite a bit more than the Canon and although the advantages of having the Panasonic were worth paying for, the funds in my wallet didn’t stretch that far. I still wonder if I should have just waited and saved up some more money. Another good thing with the Canon, is that it is possible to buy a battery handgrip which adds two more batteries so that I could have longer video shooting time. I didn’t seem to find a similar item for the Panasonic. Another influence on the purchase was the availability of lenses for the cameras, the Canon having a greater variety of lenses available. The thing with the lenses was not really a deal breaker, because the lenses that I would require for the Panasonic were actually available. The size of the sensor in the Panasonic is quite a bit smaller than the sensor in the Canon 600D and that did influence my decision to a certain extent. In some ways it was no big deal because the images from the Panasonic to a large extent were just as good, certainly as far as the video shooting was concerned. The larger the sensor is, the better the capability of the camera for capturing light, although there may be also some difference concerning the quality of the sensor and the software that runs the sensor.

Adding extra functionality with Magic Lantern

The Magic Lantern software is a free third-party software that adds quite a lot of extra capabilities and functionality to the Canon cameras. It was initially developed for use with the Canon 5D Mk 2, but was also ported to work with other cameras including the 550D and the 600D. Magic Lantern gives extra features in terms of still photography such as allowing longer exposures and easier setup of HDR photos, but where the software really excels is with the assistance it gives with shooting video. Originally the Magic Lantern software was developed in order to deal with audio problems, such as turning off the automatic gain control within the camera, so that better sound could be captured by using something like the Juiced Link preamplifier.

Magic Lantern 600D

Once the developer of Magic Lantern had found that he could easily add these extra functions, with this software that sits on top of the Canon software within the camera, he also developed extra functionality and Magic Lantern just keeps getting better. Within this software you also get zebra stripes to help you get the exposure correct and there are also tools in there to help you set up the correct focus. It is also useful that Magic Lantern gives you an intervalometer so that you can do time lapse photography. Look out for a complete article about how I use the Magic Lantern software and what it can do.

Other photography kit

I already have a studio setup with a green screen and with lights to properly light the green screen. I have a set of LED type lights for this purpose. I also have a small LED light, the type that you can fit to the top of your camera if you wish. Generally I use that to light my subject with the light at the top of a light stand. I also have a small grey card / white balance card that I can use to set the exposure and white balance to suit the lighting. This is a very handy tool, especially because I can use it to set things right even when I’m working on my own in the studio. I also have a couple of light umbrellas that I can use with those lights or with the Nikon SB25 battery-operated strobe lights. I have one soft box which I don’t really have set up properly yet. I should really try and make it so that one of the LED lights are used for the main lighting of the subject, works with that soft box.

Sure and steady with a tripod

I have a good tripod to use for the video work in the studio, I don’t tend to take it out with me, because it is too heavy for carrying around. I prefer to travel light when I am going to shoot stills or video outdoors and to use the Gorillapod or another small tripod. I do plan later on, to buy another tripod and to use a fluid head for the tripod that is specifically designed for video work. Another particularly useful tool I use, is a monopod, which is very handy for portability and steadying the camera when it is necessary to work quickly and take still take good shots. It is not a very good quality monopod but it does the job.

Home-made video tools

I have already made a tabletop dolly and this tabletop dolly can also be used on a track. I have to make this track still. I want one that will be around a metre or a metre and a half long that I can put on top of either a tripod or a pair of tripods. This adds to the type of shots that I can take with video and can often work better than a standard panning shot. Look out for an article on the website in which I show you the tabletop dolly that I made, how it works and some example video using it.

Due to the DSLR camera ergonomics, it will also be necessary for me to build a rig for using the camera handheld for video and for getting a more stable shot. There are some that I’ve seen that are made from plastic piping which have the advantage of being cheap and there are others which are kind of like a cage. That cage type is usually made from metal and provides handles on either side of the camera. These rigs are quite good, as they also give you places that you can add extras such as lighting, shotgun microphones and even HDMI monitors. Then, on the other hand I could buy a type of rig which I seen available on eBay. This one gives you a rig which you can use the same as the cage type of rig and also can be used as a shoulder rig. This particular rig is not very expensive either and it could be just as well to buy it rather than make one. It could be useful to have one of these shoulder type of rigs that also has a follow focus unit I can fit extra, so that I could have more accurate control of the focus.

Getting set up for sound

At the moment I have a couple of ways of recording sound. I have a shure SM58 microphone which I can connect directly to the camera via the XLR cable with an adapter on the end. This works fairly well and is suitable for the interview style of video shooting with me holding the microphone in my hand. I also have the Zoom H2 portable microphone which can be used to record sound separately. This also works because within Final Cut Pro X there are fairly good facilities for matching sound to the audio track on the video. I also have a microphone which works well with the iPad or even an iPhone that I can use to record a separate audio track and matchup in the same way as I would with the Zoom H2 microphone.

At some point in time I would like to buy a video shotgun microphone. There is a Rode Video Pro microphone which could be suitable for my purposes. Then again what I would really like to get, is an XLR shotgun microphone that I can connect using the Juiced Link CX 231 preamplifier with Phantom Power, to the camera. It would also be nice to have a clip on microphone to use also.

Video photography with the DSLR

As you can tell by most of the text in this article, I am more interested in video photography with this camera, the Canon 600D. I do also expect to continue making still photographs and in particular the HDR style of photo. I will add more to this blog as I add extra equipment and take more photos and video. I could see that in maybe one or two years time, perhaps even sooner than that, if I have the cash available, I might sell this Canon 600D and go the route of the mirror-less or EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lenses) camera. I could be tempted by an update to the Panasonic GH2 or perhaps even the Sony NEX-7 which has the advantage of also having the same size sensor as the Canon 600D.