Tag: Canon

Areca Moment – High Performance External Storage Options Review for iMac & Macbook Pro – USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, RAID, eSATA

Areca ARC 8050 front panel

Areca ARC 8050 front panel

 

A few months back, we put a new 27″ iMac (late 2012) 3.4 GHz Intel Core i7 model into service at the studio. Duties would include tethered capture with Phase One digital backs & Canon DSLR’s as well as various post production tasks – Photoshop, Video Editing, Lightroom, etc.

The computer came with a 3 TB internal SATA hard drive. My hope was that with the addition of USB 3.0 ports and Thunderbolt we would have plenty of reasonably priced options to choose from for some additional storage needs. Well, that was easier said/thunk than done.

Pretty simple if you want to grab one or two external 3 or 4 TB USB 3.0 hard drives from Western Digital, G-Tech, Seagate, Hitachi, etc.  The problem comes when you realize you don’t want to use up all of your USB 3.0 ports on a few drives and or you want to get a serious performance boost. Nice to have at least one port free for connecting flash card readers, monitor calibrators, tethered capture, wacom tablet, etc. There are of course the Thunderbolt ports, but even thought they’ve been around for over 2 years, there is still a pretty weak selection to choose from. And most are still quite expensive compared to a similar drive in a USB 3 package.

Speaking of a lack of ports on the new iMac, it’s real pretty and all but I would have rather it been an inch or two thicker and have a few more ports. Actually it needs to be thick enough to have room so you have 2 owner accessible hard drive bays. Maybe one 3.5″ and one 2.5″, at least 2 or 3 more USB 3.0 ports and 1 eSATA port. I know it looks thin and cool, but the reality is it’s going to be parked against a wall 90% of the time and by the time you plug in 4 or 5 things back there it looks messy. Sure it looks awesome in the product photos with no cables :)

 

Business End

Business End

 

I know some of you are thinking, why didn’t you just go buy a Mac Pro? A few reasons. Though they just announced a new one, it hasn’t had a refresh in a long long time. And as of late 2012 there was no Mac Pro with USB 3.0 ports and they are more expensive. For this machine whose primary purpose is an image capture station…a fully loaded Mac Pro seemed like overkill. Plus, on a big shoot its much easier to bring the iMac along. I will comment on the new Mac Pro announced today in the future.

Ideally at a minimum, this machine would have a separate reasonably fast volume for each of the following: OS, scratch, working files (stills and movies), Time Machine and a swapper backup drive bay. The following are a few options tested.

 

 MacGurus Burly 4 Bay Hot Swap Firewire 800 enclosure 

Existing MacGurus Burly 4 bay FW800

Existing MacGurus Burly 4 bay FW800

 

I’ve had this Burly enclosure collecting dust for the last couple years, worked fine when the only option was FW800. Never had any problems with it other than the fact that it was slow ~ 80 MB/sec read & write. I checked out MacGurus website and spoke to them on the phone. They recommended to swap out the FW800 bridge for a “MGBurly UPM Upgrade kit  Burly USB 3.0 and eSATA upgrade kit = Lycom USB3/eSATA port multiplier to up to 5 drives for $115”

 

MacGurus Burly Box rear

MacGurus Burly Box rear

 

This would allow a single USB 3.0 cable to connect to 4 drives and probably achieve around 250 – 300 MB/sec read write speeds for all drives combined. Not too bad, especially considering the cost. I asked them if there were any issues…they said no :)  I ordered it, installed it. Seemed to work ok, but over the next couple of weeks we were having issues with multiple drives randomly ejecting, dismounting, etc. I have since contacted MacGurus and explained my problem, they replied and said it appeared to be a common issue (hmmm…not what I was told when I bought it). He said there was a fix using an app called Keep Drive Spinning. Having to run an app to keep my drives from ejecting makes me want to vomit. Even if it works and is simple. No thanks. MacGurus should probably put that disclaimer on their website product page. Thank you time vampire #1, next…

 

Promise Technology Pegasus R6 – RAID Storage with Thunderbolt

Promise Tech Pegasus R6

Promise Tech Pegasus R6

 

Enter the Pegasus R6 w/ Thunderbolt. Its a 6 Bay enclosure with (6) 1 TB SATA drives installed. If I remember correctly these are what Apple waved around when they announced Thunderbolt, showing you what would be offered. I should of just bit the bullet from the get go and went this route, so I thought. I noticed newegg.com had some factory refurbished / reconditioned units with warranty which would save a few hundred dollars. Normally I would stay away from refurbs, but I thought in this case I would make an exception. I don’t have the best luck buying new, so why not try refurbs? Maybe the factory has taken a better look and ensured this one works correctly before sending it out again? ;)

Showed up and looked nice. As always I read the instructions, check firmware, current software, updates, etc. I could write a short story about what it was doing but don’t want to take all day. In short, it seemed possessed. Throwing multiple error lights, telling me it was overheating, etc.  Spent hours trying to make it right…gave up and sent it back.

Another one shows up a week later. This time totally different issues. The box itself seemed OK, but 2 of the 6 drives they shipped with it were reported as bad by the Pegasus display and utility. FWIW, tried it on two different thunderbolt computers with 10.8.2 and 10.8.3. Wow what a huge waste, to think those units leave the Promise Tech facility after being “fixed/inspected?”  Stinks. Time vampire #2, next up the solution…


24mm Comparison: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II vs. 24-70mm f/2.8L I vs. 24mm f/3.5L TS-E II

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L II, 1/320th @ f/5.6, ISO 100, Full Res JPEG

 

About a month ago, I tested the new Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II against many other top Canon 24mm lenses with a Canon 5d Mark III. Including the 24-70mm f/2.8L I, 24-105mm f/4 IS, 16-35mm f/2.8 I, 16-35mm f/2.8 II, 24mm f/1.4L I and 24mm TS-E f/3.5L II.

I shot all lenses as 24mm @ three different apertures, using live preview to focus, cable release, mirror lock up, etc. To make a long story short the brand new 24-70 mk II I was using was defective, not so great a copy aka victim of lens variation. Bad copy was returned, new one acquired. Happy to say new one performs much better. Sometime soon I will probably post the first round bad test photos anyway in case people would like to see the differences between the other lenses.

 

For the second round I decided not to compare as many lenses, just too busy. The following will compare the 24-70mm f/2.8L mk I against the mk II as well as the current 24mm TS-E II which I have found to be my favorite Canon 24mm lens as far as quality goes.

 

Here goes…

Point of focus for all images was the caution sign. Shot in RAW, ISO 100, mirror lock up, cable release, heavy tripod, live view focus. Processed jpegs in Lightroom 4.2. No output sharpening or lens corrections used. All side by sides are at 100%.

 

At f/2.8 near center of frame:

Canon 24-70mm mk I vs mk II @ f/2.8

 

f/5.6 near center:

Canon 24-70mm mk I vs mk II @ f/5.6, focus on the sign

 

f/5.6 bottom right corner:

Canon 24-70mm mk I vs mk II @ f/5.6, focus on the sign

 

f/5.6 left side middle:

Canon 24-70mm mk I vs mk II @ f/5.6, focus on the sign

 

f/11 towards the center:

Canon 24-70mm mk I vs mk II @ f/11, focus on the sign

 

f/11 bottom right corner:

Canon 24-70mm mk I vs mk II @ f/11, focus on the sign

 

f/11 bottom left corner:

Canon 24-70mm mk I vs mk II @ f/11, focus on the sign

 

f/11 left side, middle of frame:

Canon 24-70mm mk I vs mk II @ f/11, focus on the sign

 

Overall the new 24-70mm f/2.8L II lens is better (at least when you get a good copy) than the mark I. Always a good idea to test your gear whether you buy new or used, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened to me.

Wide open it is significantly sharper than the mk I. When stopped down the new one looks much better in the corners as well. There is more going on than just sharpness, other optical qualities seem improved. Better be for the dramatic price increase. It actually holds up well compared to the 24mm TS-E II when the TS-E is set for no movements. The TS-E still holds a slight edge, and of course has good amount of movements so still hard to beat for someone looking for a great 24mm lens on a Canon for landscapes or architecture.

Here are some more full res JPEG’s for your own comparisons:

24-70mm f/2.8L I, 24-70mm f/2.8L II and the 24mm f/3.5L TS-E II, zeroed out, no movements. All at f/5.6.     Zip file

 

– Jordan, December 2012


Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM & EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Lens Announcement

Interesting new lenses from Canon announced today.

I was wondering why the new 24-70mm f/2.8 II didn’t have IS…figured too much weight or cost?

The following is from a Canon press release:

Canon U.S.A. “Widens” Its Offerings And “Zooms In” On Creative Optics With The Introduction Of Two New Professional Lenses

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., November 5, 2012 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today announced two new additions to the Company’s EF lens family, the new EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM and EF 35mm f/2 IS USM lenses. Each of these two lenses features unique optical attributes for a variety of situations. The new EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM has macro shooting capabilities at the telephoto end and the EF 35mm f/2 IS USM adds Canon’s proprietary Image Stabilization (IS) to this popular prime lens focal length.

“The lens is the window to creativity, providing the unique perspective and vantage that allows photographers to turn a scene into art. It is our pleasure to introduce two lenses that will enable a wide range of photographers in diverse disciplines to explore their creativity through these new options,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Imaging Technologies & Communications Group, Canon U.S.A.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM

 

Featuring dynamic L-series optical performance in a compact, lightweight and durable design, the new EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM lens is well suited for all levels of advanced photography on the go. The ideal companion to Canon’s full-frame Digital SLR cameras such as the EOS 6D, the lens features a constant maximum aperture of f/4 throughout the entire zoom range with 15 lens elements in 12 groups including two aspherical and two UD lens elements and a 9-blade circular aperture diaphragm. The EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM lens delivers gorgeous images with excellent detail at all focal lengths and includes a macro feature at the telephoto end with a 0.2m/7.9-inch minimum focusing distance and Canon’s Hybrid IS system (with up to four stops of stabilization). The macro feature can be engaged through a switch on the lens barrel. In addition, the lens features inner focusing and a ring-type Ultrasonic Motor (USM) for quiet, fast autofocus, and has full-time mechanical manual focus that’s enabled even during AF operation. Compact at only 93mm in length, with excellent dust and water resistance, the EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM lens has a fluorine coating on the front and rear elements for easy maintenance and cleaning.

The EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM lens is supplied with a lens pouch and reversible lens hood. It is expected to be available in December for an approximate retail price of $1,499.00.

 

Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Lens

 

The successor to Canon’s EF 35mm f/2, the EF 35mm f/2 IS USM lens is a compact and lightweight wide-angle prime lens that provides a high level of image quality and functionality. The optics and mechanical workings are designed to improve image quality in the lens’s periphery and provide faster and quieter AF than its predecessor, as well as Optical IS and optional full-time manual focus, all in a durable lens body with a high-grade design. Featuring a circular aperture diaphragm and lens coatings optimized for minimal ghosting and flare, the EF 35mm f/2 IS USM lens achieves beautiful, soft backgrounds and amazing image quality.

The EF 35mm f/2 IS USM lens is expected to be available in December for an approximate retail price of $849.99.

About Canon U.S.A., Inc.

Canon U.S.A., Inc., is a leading provider of consumer, business-to-business, and industrial digital imaging solutions. With approximately $45.6 billion in global revenue, its parent company, Canon Inc. (NYSE:CAJ), ranks third overall in U.S. patents registered in 2011† and is one of Fortune Magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies in 2012. In 2012, Canon U.S.A. has received the PCMag.com Readers’ Choice Award for Service and Reliability in the digital camera and printer categories for the ninth consecutive year, and for camcorders for the past two years. Canon U.S.A. is committed to the highest level of customer satisfaction and loyalty, providing 100 percent U.S.-based consumer service and support for all of the products it distributes. Canon U.S.A. is dedicated to its Kyosei philosophy of social and environmental responsibility. To keep apprised of the latest news from Canon U.S.A., sign up for the Company’s RSS news feed by visiting www.usa.canon.com/rss.

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† Based on weekly patent counts issued by United States Patent and Trademark Office.

All referenced product names, and other marks, are trademarks of their respective owners.

Availability, prices, and specifications of all products are subject to change without notice. Actual prices are set by individual dealers and may vary.


Canon PowerShot S95 vs S100 – Worth the Upgrade?

There are many high end cameras floating around the studio. But I still need a super compact point and shoot for times when you don’t want to lug around a brick of a camera. When I say compact, I mean slide in your pants pocket and hardly know its there compact. I’m not looking for something to compete with a proper full frame DSLR, just need something for happy snaps.

Over the years I’ve tried a few different brands, and most of the time I go with a Canon. A couple of years ago a few brands started letting us have access to the RAW capabilities of these smaller cameras. Which is a huge upgrade from just getting some jpegs.

I usually replace my previous version when the new one comes out…S90 – S95 – S100. I was happy with the S95, but the features that stood out most with the S100 for me were better HD video 720 to 1080, GPS logging and slightly wider lens.

 

Below are some comparison shots of the S95 vs S100, both on tripods, self timer, etc. These are screen grabs from lightroom 4, there are no noise adjustments made.

My Conclusion:

The S100 so far looks a little better, not mind blowing…but then again Canon seems to replace these every year so I suspect the differences between cameras won’t be very great. I haven’t posted any video tests yet, maybe in the future. The GPS feature is interesting but it seems to really drain the battery fast. And as with any GPS, reception can be spotty. It is nice when it works though and look forward to that feature being seamless someday. Overall a nice little camera with RAW capability and 1080 video. If you have an S90, its a nice upgrade. If you have an S95, not sure its really worth it. If you are going to buy this camera and just shoot jpegs, I would buy a less expensive camera because if you are not shooting RAW you are wasting your money.


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