a teatray in the sky

Canon Extender EF 2x III review – gone birding

Posted in 5D Mark II, Animals, Birds, Bronx, Gearheadedness, New York City, Photography by firthefirst on March 22, 2011

continuing from yesterday’s post about using the new Extender EF 2x III on the 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II, today I’m going to review how the pairing worked out on my 5d mark II for birding at the zoo.

I’ve noted before that I am no birder.  I’m lousy at pinpointing birds on trees (tina is really good at this, so I suppose I can rely on her to be a spotter).  I have no practice at tracking them while in flight.  luckily, birding is one of those things that you can improve at with practice.  a lot of patience and the willingness to delete a lot of bad photos goes a long way towards improving your skills. (more…)

Canon Extender EF 2x III review – leaping lemurs

Posted in 5D Mark II, Animals, Bronx, Gearheadedness, New York City, Photography, Primates by firthefirst on March 21, 2011

ever since getting the canon extender EF 2x III to pair with the canon 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II in preparation for august’s galapagos trip, I’ve been meaning to give the system a formal shakedown (I did a very preliminary test run here).  with work in the way, that review has taken far longer to get to than expected.  I had a lucky break this past weekend when Tina got sent to the big apple for a symposium.  I packed up the photo gear and merrily tagged along, with zero intention of thinking any architectural thoughts — I was headed to the Bronx Zoo.  while few of the larger mammals were out due to the chilly-for-africa temperatures, the Bronx Zoo has a huge and exciting collection of primates and birds, so I spent most of my time photographing the furry and the feathery. (more…)

tuesday gear day — Canon Extender EF 2X III

Posted in 5D Mark II, Gearheadedness, Photography, Strobism by firthefirst on January 26, 2011

there are things in life that deserve a bad rep.  they’ve worked hard for them, they’ve deeply aggrieved people, they’ve done terrible things under the flimsiest of pretexts.  like, african dictators.  enron executives.  hippopotamuses.  previous models of the hyundai sonata.  and, of course, tele-extenders.

let’s be honest, ask anyone about tele-extenders (pre-2011) and they’ll tell you the truth: they suck, and are unfit for human consumption.  there’s something about sticking a magnifying glass to the back end of a camera lens that just doesn’t seem to cut the mustard.

but that was then.  this is now.  canon clearly saw, with the advent of the new hyundai sonata, that what was once absolute dreck could be rehabilitated and turned into something astounding.  or maybe canon executives have been watching My Fair Lady.  one way or another, they threw down the gauntlet and made a promise no one thought they were really going to keep: that Canon would release a new 2x extender that not only didn’t suck, but would make photos look good.

here we are in 2011, with the new 1.4x III and 2x III extenders available pretty much everywhere.  was Canon all talk, or did they deliver?


tuesday gear day … because friday is too far away

Posted in 5D Mark II, Defrag, Gearheadedness, Photography by firthefirst on November 2, 2010

some of you already know I shelled out for this little beast, the canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM.  I don’t know why the “II” part of the name comes before the “USM” part of the name, and I have the feeling canon has no idea why they set up their naming conventions that way either.  don’t hold your breath waiting for a formal review, but you can see it in action in the teaser set from the counterpoint premiere.  also, since I haven’t shot with the older versions of this lens, I have no real point of comparison worth discussing anyway. (more…)

friday gear day – lens round-up

Posted in 5D Mark II, Defrag, Gearheadedness, Photography by firthefirst on September 24, 2010

quite a few people asking about the gear I normally shoot with.  simple answer: it varies.  the same way T-mobile reception varies.  or Paris Hilton’s drug intake varies.  it varies a lot.  but unlike T-mobile or Ms. Hilton, I’m willing (and able) to qualify and quantify that statement a bit more.  plus, I can never resist opportunities for making lists.  so sit back and enjoy another Friday Gear Day. (more…)

friday gear day

Posted in 5D Mark II, Defrag, Gearheadedness, Photography by firthefirst on August 27, 2010

packing and loading up … can’t wait to unleash the two little sig-monsters out in the wild and see how they do on the 5D II and tina’s T2i.  realized that my little tamrac backpack wasn’t going to cut it this time around, and so the inevitable has happened: I’ve upgraded my luggage. (more…)

answering the call of battle[net]

Posted in Defrag, Gearheadedness, Software by firthefirst on August 6, 2010

you can call me a geek, or dork, or maggot, or, worst of all, a noob (aka newb, nOOb, nub, whatever).  it’s all been done before, and besides, it’s all true.  none of that matters, because the awesome joy that is playing Starcraft II is well worth some name calling for the right to duke it out mano-a-alieno on the new battlenet. (more…)

moonlight sonata

Posted in 5D Mark II, Gearheadedness, Photography by firthefirst on April 16, 2010

you can have your beethoven.  I’ll take my hyundai.

this was not the originally scheduled post.  but, well, 18-inch rims can be a little distracting. (more…)

smithsonian kite festival 2010, and a peek at the 100mm L IS macro

Posted in 5D Mark II, Gearheadedness, Photography, Smithsonian and the Mall, Washington, DC by firthefirst on March 29, 2010

saturday was a real knockout beauty, the kind wednesdays dream of hooking up with.  the smithsonian picked a nice crisp day to get the 2010 cherry blossom season underway with their annual kite festival, and getting to hang out with my old studio mate Zee was an excellent way to spend it.  I decided to bust out the new 100mm macro for some kite-shooting and discovered that trying to capture the mood of a kite festival is pretty hard.

lots more to come this week, with a review of Hank’s Oyster Bar, a mini-review of Coco Sala, and a couple of photo series from saturday.  today’s a pretty lousy day for a number of reasons, but I figured I’d toss in a few kite festival shots to lighten the mood. (more…)

a land flowing with milk and honey

Posted in 30D, 5D Mark II, Gearheadedness by firthefirst on March 13, 2010

the new Zorro

… is sort of what full frame cameras have been made out to be.  sure, you can get bigger, more expensive, more baller, more exotic gear (read: hasselblad digital back), but you can say that about pretty much anything these days.  hell, you could blow 25K on a Mont Blanc pen featuring a picture of Gandhi if you really wanted (here for those of you who really are both really ironic and desperate to shed cash).  but Canon’s 5D Mark II and Nikon’s D700 are the Corvettes of the camera world – adrenalin-pumping action and stunning performance and yet your children aren’t consigned to eating dog food for the next dozen years. (more…)