Manfrotto / Bogen 458B Neotec Pro Photo Tripod – Neck Wobble

What a cool tripod.  A bit heavy, sure, but keep reading if you’re not familiar with the unique trick this tripod offers.

I’m posting this not to review the tripod, but to help out anyone who may have run into the trouble I did.  But before I get into that…

Briefly, this tripod is unique because it does not have clamps or screw knobs on the legs.  When you extend the legs, you grab them and just give them a tug.  They slide out and auto-lock exactly where they stop.  Want to make them longer? Tug again.  No fiddling with locks or clamps on the legs.  I set up my tripod in less time than it takes most people to get the first leg unclamped.  When you’re ready to collapse the tripod, just press in the locking button at the top of the leg, and all the sections of that leg will collapse back in.  There’s one button for each leg, and with a little exploring it’s not hard to learn how to hold down all three buttons at once, push down on the whole tripod, and have the entire thing collapse down to it’s carrying size.  It’s so fast it’s ridiculous.  Look it up on YouTube if you want to see more.

So what’s the issue that I ran into?  Well the top 2″ of the tripod neck is made of a different material from the rest of the neck.  There’s a joint between the top 2″ and the rest of the neck.  When I received my tripod, I noticed a very slight amount of wobble at this joint.  It bothered me because A) this is an expensive tripod, and B) the work I do with this tripod is mostly for layering in Photoshop, and I need multiple shots to be exactly aligned.  (It turns out there’s a reason for this joint – more on that later.)

I started searching around the internet, and I did not find anyone or anything that explained why the neck was built this way, or what to do about it.  I posted my question on the Amazon reviews page for the product, and “Sergey” responded with some information that lead me to the solution.  In short, what they told me was that the top 2″ of the neck is removable for using the tripod in an extremely low-to-the-ground setup.  Pop that part off, remove the neck, insert the 2″ piece into the legs, and you can get your camera within 2″ of the ground.  Brilliant!

At the bottom end of the neck (the end opposite where the head is mounted) is a solid, rubberized cap.  Grab that cap and “unscrew” it, and what actually unscrews is the 2″ portion at the top end of the neck, allowing the entire neck to separate for that low-to-the-ground functionality.

When my Neotec tripod arrived from the factory, this rubberized cap was not fully tightened, allowing a slight amount of neck wobble.  Grasping it firmly, I tightened it down all the way, and voila!  A solid, non-wobbly center shaft on my tripod.

Did you run into this issue with your tripod?  Let me know in the comments below!

Canon EOS 1DX mark II & 5D mark IV Autofocus Systems

Finally.

If you’re like me, you’ve been loyal to Canon for their great lenses and beautiful skin tone.

But that loyalty has come with a price.  Namely, autofocus.  Let’s face it – it’s been crap.

If you’re an f/8 shooter, you’re in great shape.  But if you love your shallow focus with soft creamy bokeh-filled backgrounds, life has been rough for us Canon users.

At f/2.8 or larger, using single-point AF, whether single-shot or servo, and even placing the AF point carefully over an eye with plenty of lighting, the rate at which the camera returns an image that’s actually in focus is somewhere in the neighborhood of 20%-30%.

I’m not saying they’ve been way off, but they’re consistently off just enough.  Web-res is unaffected, but doing larger prints can be tricky when shooting this way.

If you’ve worked shoulder to shoulder with Nikon shooters, you may have even looked over with a little envy at the relatively consistent sharpness they get at f/1.4 and other similar settings.

WELL NO LONGER!!

The 1DX mk II and the 5D mk IV finally incorporate AF systems that can handle shallow-focus shooters.  I’m actually back to shooting at f/1.8 and f/1.6 on a regular basis – and that’s at live events with people moving around like weddings and corporate parties.

I’m not going to comment on auto-tracking or other fancy AF modes designed to figure things out for you.  Frankly I could give a shit about modes like that.  What makes these cameras worth the upgrade is simply this: every single one of my lenses feels like it got a sharpness upgrade, because the damn AF system is actually accurate now.  I get an AF hit rate of 60%-70% around f/1.6.  On my 1DX classic or my 5D mk III, I would have been lucky to get one sharp image out of 10 under these conditions.

So if basic AF performance is key to how you work, go out and get one of these newer Canon bodies.  Finally the wait is over.

Canon EOS 1D-X mark II Viewfinder

Hi All,

It’s pretty well publicized that the 1D-X mark II has always-on illuminated red AF points.  Are you curious what they actually look like?  Sure, plenty of websites show you a drawing and describe it, but I’ve actually got a photograph for you to see.  The image quality is terrible – I did this with my cell phone – but you can actually see what the interior viewfinder view of the camera is.

1D-x-mark-2-viewfinder-red-af-points

The red light is constant – it does not blink.  There is also a variety of other display options such as only showing the AF point that is selected.

The camera menu offers two brightness levels, “normal,” and “brighter.”

Canon 1D-x-mark-ii-af-point-brightness-menu

Canon EOS 1D-X mark II screen color balance

Note – The following information may no longer be relevant.  Canon has released firmware 1.1.2, which adds a menu item “LCD color tone.”  This menu allows you to choose the overall color tone of the screen for matching older camera bodies such as the 1D-X classic, or 5D mark III.  You can download the latest firmware for your 1D-X mark II here.

As of this post, I got my 1D-X mark II three days ago.  This thing is amazing.  I’m absolutely thrilled with the accuracy and consistency of the AF at large apertures (f/2.0 and faster) compared to my 1D-X original.

After receiving the new camera, I went into a two-day shoot, and I carried all three of my camera bodies – the 5D mark III, 1D-X original, and 1D-X mark II.  Immediately I noticed that the color balance of the screen in the 1D-X mark II is not the same as the other two cameras.  Forgive the cell phone photo, but here’s a sample of what I’m talking about:

Canon EOS 5D mark III screen vs 1D-X original screen vs 1D-X mark II screen. The 1DX mark II has a noticeably warmer color balance.

While slight variations from camera model to camera model are expected, notice that the 5D mark III and 1D-X original are still reasonably similar.  The 1D-X mark II, however, is significantly warmer in tone.

You’re looking at a photo of grey concrete.  This was shot near sunset, thus the slight magenta cast.  All three cameras were set to “cloudy” white balance.  All three versions were shot with the exact same lens.

I shoot RAW, so I wasn’t too concerned about being able to make everything match in post, but I was very curious to see whether that tone discrepancy was present in the files, or simple a function of the screen.  Here are slices of the same files from above.  These were output by Adobe Lightroom 6.  All files had all settings zero’d out, and the camera profile was set to Camera Neutral.  Again, allowing for slight changes in the different camera models, you can see that all files look pretty similar, which points pretty strongly to a simple difference in screens.

Difference in grey tones between Canon EOS 5Dmk3, 1D-X original, and 1D-X mark II.

One final way to test this, so to simply compare the screens while in a menu, not displaying image data.  This sample may be harder to judge from my cell phone photo, but in person the distinct warm-tone of the 1D-X mark II is quite clear.  (Sorry I changed the order of the cameras compared to the samples above.)

Canon EOS 5D mk III vs 1D-X original vs 1D-X mark II screen comparison in menus.

{Edit}
In addition to the above samples, I also used Adobe Lightroom to measure and level the three files.  I used the white balance tool to adjust the grey tone based on the exact same location in each photo.  The resulting output was:

  • 1D-X mark II: 5450k
  • 1D-X original: 5400k
  • 5D mark III: 5300K

Even further evidence that the files themselves are all reasonably close given completely different camera models and manufacturing years.

{End Edit}

Have you noticed this discrepancy in the screen of your own 1D-X mark II?  Does it impact your ability to shoot?  Would you not buy or choose to wait to buy because of this?  Comment below!

Does the new EOS 1D-X mark II battery charger also charge the older 1D-X (original) batteries?

Yes…

Photo of Canon's LC-E19 charger charging both LP-E19 and LP-E4N battery packs.

Yes it does.

To clarify, the battery new battery charger provided with the Canon EOS 1D-X mark II is the LC-E19.  The native battery for the same camera is now the LP-E19.  The camera can also be used with the previous batteries from the original 1D-X called the LP-E4N.  The new charger is backward compatible with the older battery packs, and will charge them.

Windows 10 Multiple Desktop Keyboard Shortcuts

While many of you are probably exclusively Mac users, there are many of us on the Windows platform.  If you’ve made the jump to Windows 10, and haven’t yet explored the multiple desktops feature, I recommend you do so.

Multiple desktops are great for staying organized when you’re juggling a lot of projects.  I can have one for all my email and social media windows, another for Lightroom and image processing, and yet another for InDesign and Bridge where I’m working on an album design.

Continue reading Windows 10 Multiple Desktop Keyboard Shortcuts

How To Change or Remove the Canon EOS 1D-X Clock / Backup Battery

You know about the big battery in your Canon 1D-X, but did you know all modern cameras also have a small watch battery that keeps the clock and other settings  while the main battery is removed?

While it typically would take many years, sometimes this battery goes dead, causing your camera to lose all its settings while the main battery is out and charging.  Or perhaps you’ve had some kind of technical issue with your camera for which doing a full factory reset would be useful.

** WARNING: IF IT’S NOT ALREADY OBVIOUS, DOING THIS WILL COMPLETELY ELIMINATE ALL CUSTOMIZATIONS AND SETTINGS FROM YOUR CAMERA.  USE THE 1DX’S ABILITY TO BACK THEM UP TO A FILE BEFORE PERFORMING THIS OPERATION. FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS AT YOUR OWN RISK. **

Edit to above warning – So that’s not true.  Previous 1D series cameras will lose all settings, but the 1D-X stores many of the settings in flash memory, so they persist even after pulling the backup battery.  To reset back to factory, you’ll also need to visit two menus.  The first is the yellow Wrench menu, page 4, then select “Clear all camera settings.”  This poorly named menu item clears some camera settings.  The next place to visit is the orange Camera menu page 7, and select “Clear all Custom Func.”  These two menu items plus removing the backup battery will put the camera back to factory.

Here are the steps to remove your 1D-X’s backup battery.  The only tool you’ll need is a PH00 or Philips-head 00 size screwdriver.  If you need to replace the battery, look for a 3V CR2025.

The first step to replacing the backup / clock battery in the Canon 1D-X, is to remove the main battery.
The first step to replacing the backup / clock battery in the Canon 1D-X, is to remove the main battery.
The first step to replacing the backup / clock battery in the Canon 1D-X, is to remove the main battery.
Turn the camera upside down.

Continue reading How To Change or Remove the Canon EOS 1D-X Clock / Backup Battery

Workshop Launch

  • Better image quality in the same or less time.
  • How to build the most effective backup systems and keep them affordable.
  • Solutions for challenging post-processing situations, dealing with mixed light, and other deep Lightroom develop module tools.

ProTogTech is launching it’s first ever workflow and backup systems workshop in San Francisco on August 27th!  Come join the fun and learn a lot.  Details at https://protogtech.com/workflow-backup-for-photographers-beta-workshop-2015/

Windows 10 on Yosemite Boot Camp

I just finished installing the Windows 10 upgrade on my bootcamped Late 2013 13″ retina Macbook Pro, and the good news is that there are only a few things to report.

First off, yes, Win10 starts up very, very fast.

Further, so far I haven’t encountered any major applications that won’t work.  For me that means Photo Mechanic 4.6.9, Lightroom CC 2015.1.1, my Spyder 4 Elite utility, Word 2013, and all of my little utilities ported straight over without any fuss.

Windows 10 is being trickled out to most users via Windows Update, which means that if you’re excited to try the new OS, you might not get it as quickly as you’d like.  Never fear, there’s a way to force the update whenever you’re ready.  Simply visit Microsoft’s “Download Windows 10” page, and grab the download tool.  Some of the wording implies that it’s only for making physical media, but it will actually support either this or an upgrade installation. Continue reading Windows 10 on Yosemite Boot Camp