Thursday, September 12, 2013

50 years on, 1963 was a big year

It seems like every week this year, I see another something that is 50 years old (that is, it happened in 1963)!  Here are the biggies I have observed

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Observations on the Canon EOS Rebel SL1

I am not a gear reviewer, but I feel comfortable expressing my views on the equipment that I have used, especially as it compares to other equipment.

I needed to send my Canon 7D in for some repairs, so I decided to take this opportunity to rent the new EOS Rebel SL1 (known as the 100D in Europe and elsewhere). 

I have included two paragraphs at the end of this post: one copied from the Canon description of this camera, and the other from the conclusion of the review from  In my opinion, these are both quite accurate.

My overriding impression is, well, WOW!  This is an amazing camera! 

The most impressive features are:
  • It is very small.  With my old kit lens it hardly weighs anything. 
    • As they say, the best camera in the world is the one you have with you.  This camera is a breeze to carry with you everywhere.
  • Hybrid AF system is very, VERY useful in Live View and for movies.  It continuously focuses. It finds faces and tracks them.  Really: This is a HUGE improvement in DSLR video capabilities and (IMHO) puts several nails in the coffin of the conventional camcorder.
  • The image quality is superb!  Every lens I own seems to be better on the SL1, especially my two Canon EF-S “kit” lenses.  In particular, the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens is quite excellent on this camera. (I only shoot Raw, so it is not a processing difference.)
  • The touch screen is excellent.  It works nicely when you want it to, and never gets in the way.  It has multi-touch, so “pinching” and “spreading” are supported when viewing pictures.  The lack of dedicated buttons is a bit limiting, but the touch screen, in my mind, more than makes up for this.  For example, the "Q" menu is fully touch-ful.
  • The shutter action is strangely satisfying—I like it.
  • It uses SDHC cards.  This is cool for me because my laptop has an integrated SD card reader.  And it also opens the possibility of using the well-reviews Eye-Fi SD card.
  • And, of course, the advantage of owing any Canon DSLR is that there is an unsurpassed array of lenses that work with it.  This "feature" means that it blows away the (equally small but optically challenged) Sony NEX cameras and makes it competitive to the Micro 4/3 offerings.
The drawbacks:
  • The focus system is not very sophisticated. There are only nine focus points, and choosing among them is difficult while looking through the viewfinder.  (It is wonderfully implemented, however, on the touch screen.)
  • In Raw, it only shoots about 3 frames per second, and then bogs down after about six or seven continuous frames.  You'll get better speed if you shoot JPEG, and I thunk there are faster SDHC cards available than the Class 6 card I happen to own.
  • The small battery is clearly a compromise to achieve a particular mass and volume for the camera.  In my shooting, I needed to recharge the battery every day.  One day when I did not, I did a lot of shooting on Day 2 (of course) and the battery was not up to it.

The smallness of this camera, combined with almost no compromises, makes this an great choice for virtually any photographer.  It is a particularly excellent choice as a second camera, especially if your first camera is the gargantuan 5D or 1DX.  It does movies much better than these behemoths.  And did I say it is really small?

Bottom line: If I were to own two APS-C cameras, this would be my second camera. 


Here is Canon’s blurb on this camera:

As the world's smallest and lightest digital SLR camera*, the new EOS Rebel SL1 is small in size but enormous in performance. With a newly-designed Canon 18.0 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor and speedy Canon DIGIC 5 Image Processor, it delivers images of extraordinary quality - ideal for those stepping up from a smartphone or compact camera. An impressive ISO range of 100-12800 (expandable to H: 25600) for stills and 100-6400 (expandable to H: 12800) for video plus up to 4.0 fps continuous shooting make this camera the go-to for any photo opportunity, even in dim lighting or when capturing fast action subjects. And Hybrid CMOS AF II delivers accurate AF tracking during Live View shooting, helping ensure your photos and movies are crisp and clear. The EOS Rebel SL1 makes amazing movies with Canon EOS Full HD Movie Mode with Movie Servo AF, working in concert with Canon STM lenses for smooth and quiet continuous AF. In addition to its Optical Viewfinder, the EOS Rebel SL1 has a bright, wide Touch Screen 3.0" Clear View LCD monitor II, perfect for viewing a number of special scene modes and Creative Filters available in real-time display. Here is the DSLR you'll want to bring with you everyday and ignite your imagination! summarizes like this:

With everything a family photographer is likely to want and little left over to intimidate, the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 may be Canon's best-targeted digital Rebel to date. As the top end of the Rebel line - currently the T5i - added more and more enthusiast features, the camera got bigger and more complex, and the SL1/100D stands as a suitable alternative without much compromise where it matters. Indeed, it currently stands as the better alternative for those who want to shoot in live view mode, and for anyone who thinks they'll want to shoot a movie now and then, thanks to Hybrid AF II. Image quality is also uncompromised, as we've come to expect from the Rebel line.

Its smaller size and lighter weight make it easier to pack and carry, meaning the Canon SL1 is more likely to be used, and its fuller feature set helps it stand out for those dissatisfied with their smartphone shots. The good news is the SL1 is a real pleasure to shoot, with ergonomics good enough for small to medium-size hands, and snappy performance, both when shooting and reviewing photos. The touchscreen makes menus and playback work like a cell phone, making it familiar to more users than would normally be the case. The only element missing to help it compete in the smartphone-dominated market is Wi-Fi, which can be added via an Eye-Fi card, which is supported in the SL1's menu.