Archive for the ‘Equipment’ Category

Manfrotto Pro Photographer

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Today, Manfrotto Canada officially launched the Manfrotto Pro Photographers and Videographers Program. I am pleased to be one of the top professional photographers in Canada who have been chosen to be part of this program. It was over 30 years when I bought my first “real” tripod, a Manfrotto #055, before that I had a flimsy poor excuse for a tripod.  Over the years I bought other Manfrotto tripods, the #190 and the HUGE/HEAVY #075 that I used for a Pentax 6×7 medium format camera.  Today the tripod that I use is Manfrotto 055CXPRO4 Carbon Fibre Tripod which is so much lighter!!! And if you have seen any of the behind-the-scene photos taken in my studio, you know that it is jam-packed full of Manfrotto light stands, poles, clamps, arms and brackets. I’m looking forward to testing and reviewing more Manfrotto equipment in the future, I’ll keep you updated.

 

Manfrotto Pro Promo Sheet_Eng

It’s Been Awhile

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

In fact it’s been a LONG time since I have posted anything here.  I have been extremely busy with work – photo shoots, workshops and editing/processing photos. So unfortunately I haven’t had a spare minute to post anything here. I do however do post many of my pictures on my Facebook Page and Garry Black Photography Facebook Page, please add me or “Like” my page if you haven’t already.

Here are two images from recent shoots, one in Ottawa and the other in Namibia, Africa. Somehow they seem rather similar to me.

Virginie in the grass

Virginie in the grass

 

 

Lion in the grass

Lion in the grass

 

For the Africa trip I used the new SIGMA Sport 120-300 mm F2.8 DG HSM OS lens. I used it with a Canon 7D which has a 1.6x cropped sensor, which made the lens effectively a 192-480 mm which was incredible. I had bought the 7D especially for this trip and to use with this lens. Once I have the opportunity to process some more of the images from this trip (and some time) I will post more images taken with the lens and a review of it.  But I can tell you right now – I loved using this lens!

 

LENS REVIEW – SIGMA 35MM F1.4 DG HSM

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

For the past several weeks I’ve have been using and testing Sigma’s new 35mm F1.4 DG HSM lens and every time I mention it or post one of the photos, everyone asks “what do you think of it?”  The short answer is…..Stellar results and performance!

 So what makes this lens so great?

This is one of the newly designed lenses from Sigma’s new Art line, one of the three new lines that also includes Contemporary and Sports categories. When I first saw this lens several months ago at a trade show I was quite impressed with the solid feel and mechanical  quality/construction.  As soon as you see and start handling it you realize the quality of this lens, it has a feel to it of being a superior  professional lens – which it is.  There are many well thought out and designed features, one which I really thought was very well done is the large and well placed manual focusing ring, which is a full-time manual override.  Since the depth of field at F1.4 (as it is with any F1.4 lens) is only a very thin plane of focus, I sometimes find myself fine tuning the focus manually. I’m old school and this approach works for me. That being said, the majority of the time I use the auto focus and with this lens I found it to be quick, accurate and there it almost completely silent. Just take care where you place your focus point(s), as you would with any F1.4 lens. The minimum focusing distance is about 12 inches, which allows you to get in really close to your subject, an added bonus.

So what about image quality? The sharpness and colours are amazing. The resolution/sharpness wide open is excellent, and shooting at F1.4 – F2 is one of the main reasons why you are buying this lens.  The in-focus details are razor-sharp and the bokeh, background blur, is very soft and diffused. For low light photography this lens is 2 stops faster compared to my 24-70 F2.8 and with my Canon 5D MKIII it focuses incredibly quickly and accurately. Plus there is the additional advantage of the 1.4 aperture for bokeh, which is way better bokeh than f2.8.  There is practically no chromatic aberration, fringing and distortion. On a cropped sensor camera it would be a fantastic normal field of view lens, as it would be approximately the equivalent of a 50mm lens. Before getting this lens, I already had the Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM a lens that truly impresses me with it’s image quality. The new Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM actually surpasses the build and image quality of the 85mm.

 Below are some of the photos that I have taken using a Canon 5D MKIII and the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM lens.

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F7.1

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F7.1

 

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F2.0

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F2.0

 

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F2.0

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F2.0

 

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F4.0

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F4.0

 

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

 

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

 

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F11

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F11

 

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

 

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

 

 

 

Given the high optical quality and the excellent build of this lens, I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending it. The lens sells for a very reasonable price, which is also substantially less than the camera manufacturers’ equivalents. It also comes with a 7 year warranty from Sigma Canada. Bottom line – I would definitely recommend this lens, it is probably the highest quality lens that I have ever shot with!

 

 

Sigma 70-200 F2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

My go to lens is the Sigma 70-200 F2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM, this lens is incredible! When I first got it, I did a serious comparison test with the Canon EF 70-200 F2.8L IS USM lens that I owned at that time….which I have since sold. Which should tell you which lens I thought was better.

 

 Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 70-200 F2.8 EX

 

0V2C6657-3b

(Click to see large version)

Here is a 100% close up of Natasha’s eye from the photo below

 

 

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Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM – A

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

On Monday I received the newly redesigned Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM Lens , it is one of Sigma’s new ART Series lenses part of the Contemporary line of lenses.   It was last November when I first saw this lens at the Henry’s Exposure Show, but I didn’t have an opportunity to take any photos with it at that time other than of the trade show area. What I did notice and was extremely impressed with, is the design and the high quality of construction of the lens.

Yesterday I took a few test photos around the house, we had a huge snowstorm in Ottawa, so I stayed inside.  So far I’m impressed! The auto focus is quick and very smooth and there is also a full-time manual focus override using the large and easy the reach focusing ring. Over the next couple of weeks I will try to put this lens through various shooting situations and will write a review giving you my honest and  objective thoughts about this lens. Here are a few of the images from yesterday.

 

 

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

 

 

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

 

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

 

 

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM lens

 Our poinsettia is still flowering, 3 months after Christmas!

 

The Crispness is Amazing

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Canon 5D MKII - Sigma APO 70-200 F2.8 EX DG

 

This is one of the images from last weekend’s Studio Portrait Photography Workshop. When I posted it on my Facebook page I assumed that all of the comments would be about the lighting, colour, composition and oh yes, probably a few about Taryn, our model for the photo shoot.

Well, it did receive all of those comments, but there were a couple of other comments that I didn’t expect. Those were about how crisp the image is. Until somebody mentions it, lens quality isn’t something that I normally think about when I am shooting, I do know that the quality of the lenses I use are excellent and that they are tack sharp.  And since I earn my income as a photographer – making and creating pictures for magazines and commercial clients, lens and image quality is something that I must and do have.

If you follow my posts you know that my favourite lens by far is the SIGMA APO 70-200 F2.8 EX DG HSM, followed closely by the SIGMA 24-70MM F2.8 IF EX DG HSM. I probably use these two lenses for over 90% of my work. The image quality of these lenses is superb! Now there are all sorts of equipment reviews and tests out there, comparing “This thing is better than that thing”…..well, I really am not a huge fan of these types of reviews. They do serve a purpose and are a good starting point in helping you decide what you should consider in purchasing, but what I think is much more useful are “Real World Tests”.  Actually using the equipment or getting that advice from someone who will give you a subjective evaluation.

Well, what I can tell you is that I have been using the 4 Sigma lenses listed below for over a year now….and that they are indispensable to my work. In some of my future posts I will give you some Real World examples showing how and when I use these lenses.

SIGMA APO 70-200MM F2.8 EX DG HSM

SIGMA 24-70MM F2.8 IF EX DG HSM

SIGMA 120-400MM F4.5-5.6 APO DG HSM

SIGMA 85MM F1.4 EX DG HSM

 

 

Masterclass Studio Lighting and Post Production Workshop

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma APO 70-200 F2.8 EX DG

 

Masterclass Studio Lighting and Post Production Workshop – Due to a cancellation a space has become available

http://www.garryblack.com/studioportrait2013_2.html

 

Sunday February 3, 2013  –  10am to 4pm
Wednesday February 6, 2013  – 7pm to 10pm

What Does It Mean?

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

 

As a professional photographer and one of the Sigma Pros, a lot of people write to me asking all sorts of questions about lenses and cameras and well just about everything imaginable about photography. One of the common questions is about lenses for Full Frame and Cropped Sensor cameras. A full framed lens will work on either camera while the cropped sensor lens will only work on a cropped camera.

With the Sigma lenses there are 2 different designations in the name, which specify the camera they are to be used with. DC, which is only for cropped sensor cameras, or DG which are lenses for full frame or cropped sensor cameras.

Here are two lenses, do you know which one is only for cropped sensor cameras?

Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM

Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM

 

So what does everything else mean?

IF stands for internal focus – the front of the lens doesn’t rotate when focusing, this is a good feature if you are using a polarizing filter. It also allows for the lens to focus faster.

EX stands for the professional top of the line lenses – optically and mechanically.

HSM stands for Hyper Sonic Motor. It is a new type of motor used for auto focus in some of Sigma’s newer lenses.

OS stands for Optical Stabilization which helps to keep the camera steady when handholding with a longer shutter speed.

 

2013 – A Look Forward

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

 

to blog or not to blog

 

The year is off to a fantastic and a hectic start – Busiest. Winter. Ever!  I have already had several photo shoots, prepared a new program and gave a presentation to the RA Photo Club, organized and booked 3 more Studio Portrait Lighting Workshops,  and of course spent far too many hours in front of the computer. However, one of the things that I haven’t done is post very much to this blog. So much so, that several people have written asking what happened. While I do post often, very often, on my Facebook pages – it is usually only photos.   I have always left my blog for articles, announcements, tips and techniques or reviews.  But I am curious, what would you like to see here? Photos? What other information can I share with you?  What do you want more of?  Drop me a line, either in the comments below or email.

Hope your year is starting off great!

Henry’s Ottawa Exposure Show

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Canon 5D MKII - Sigma 120-400 f/4.5-5.6 DG OS @F14-1/60sec 200 ISO

 

This weekend Nov 16-18, I will be giving several presentations at the Henry’s Exposure Show in Ottawa at the CE Centre. The topic of my presentation is “The Secrets of Creating WOW in your Photos” Hope to see you!!!!!!

Friday 1:30 – 2:15
Saturday 12:30 – 1:15
Sunday 11:30 – 12:15

If you can’t make it to my presentation I will also be at the Sigma Booth all weekend long.