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Saturday, April 30, 2005

On a Rainy Evening

If you live in San Francisco Bay area, you might have noticed that gorgeous full rainbow yesterday evening. I rushed out to try a picture of it after I reached home from work. But unfortunatetly It was too faint by then. Disappointed I returned to car and noticed the rain drops all over the windshield. It looked very interesting with the backdrop of sunset colors. So I clicked away...

Canon EOS 20D, F8.0, 1/125 s, ISO800

Canon EOS 20D, F8.0, 1/200 s, ISO800

I wish I had used more depth of field. But it was already at ISO800 at F8.0, and to decrease the aperture even further, I'd have to go to ISO1600. I wanted to keep the shutter speed as high as possible for maximum sharpness while holding the camera in hand.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Pink - Erica Heathers


Erica Heathers

Native to South Africa

(c) All Rights Reserved
  • Shot handheld with Canon EOS 20D, 18-55mm EF-S Kit lens in Canon Raw format
  • F13.0, 1/50 s, ISO 800
  • Did minor adjustments and converted to JPG using Canon's Digital Photo Professional bundled with 20D.
  • Applied "Glow" and "Soft Focus" Effects in Picasa2
  • Did a very tight crop, makes it look like it was taken with a macro lens. Well it was not. The 8.2 MP gives you so much of resolution to play with.

    Although, I do wish I had the 100mm F2.8 Macro lens to capture the beauty of these tiny flowers in great detail.


Couldn't resist posting one more picture of these beautiful flowers. This time, a 4:3 aspect ratio wallpaper. Click on the link below to download the wallpaper.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A very colorful toy

Tiger Piano
Canon EOS 20D, F5.3, 1/8 s, ISO 800, 55mm (using 18-55 kit lens)
Modified with Photoshop Elements 2.0
  • Unsharp Mask : Amount 300%, radius 0.3 , threshold 0
  • Resized Image to 400 X 600
  • Resized Canvas to 422 x 622
  • Stroke with black color, 1px, inside

I just like the funny gaze of this character, and wanted to emphasize on it, at the same time, wanted to capture its full spectrum of colors. I was, shooting in low light, so opened up aperture to its maximum F5.3, allowed by 18-55 mm kit lens at full zoom (i.e. 55mm). Hence the shallow depth of field, which actually puts even more emphasis on the face of the character. And, yes I know it is not perfectly centered in the frame.


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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Little Pomeranian

Canon EOS 20D, F9.0, 1/160 s, +2/3EV

Here is a picture of my colleague. Recently, one day she brought this cute little pomeranian puppy with her. It was only a few weeks old, and in fact my 20D looked bigger then this puppy. I forgot to reset the Exposure compensation Dial back to zero EV, so some over exposure and loss of details in white areas. But I am glad that the pic came out nice otherwise.

I did some sharpening using Unsharp Mask filter in Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 (bundled with 20D). Also created the white border using the Stroke command.


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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Why I chose Canon EOS 20D

OKay, time to finish of what I had started. Here is the second part. You might want to read first part from the link below.

Part I : Why I upgraded to a digital SLR

Part II : Why I chose Canon EOS 20D

In spite of the limitations I was facing with G5, I was overall happy with my decision to go with a Canon product. I knew that it was not a limitation of canon's technology but rather the class of camera I had chosen. So when I decided to upgrade to a dSLR, I simply started looking for what Canon had to offer.

300D or 20D ? A $600 question.
At the time of buying G5, it was first time for me so I was a bit skeptical spending a lot of money. But when it was time to upgrade, I knew that whatever I'll get I'll make good use of it. And therefore I was willing to spend little more if I liked the product. When I started looking, there were mainly two models that were within my reach. Canon EOS 300D (Digital Rebel) and Canon EOS 20D . 20D is the next incarnation of Canon EOS 10D. 10D was still available in the market but discontinued by Canon after 20D became available. On simple side by side comparison, it was quite clear that 20D was an entirely different class compared to 300D. See for yourself at dpreview.com. 300D was the first dSLR under $1000 and has had a revolutionary impact on the advanced amateur class of consumers. But by all means, 20D was a significant step forward in so many respect, for $600 more.

  • It was lot more robust compared to 300D. (Magnesium Alloy Body vs. Plastic Body )
  • Lot faster startup times. (0.2 seconds vs 2+seconds )
  • twice as fast continuous shooting (5 frames per second vs 2.5 frames per second)
  • Better, smarter, faster auto focus (9 point AF in 20D vs 7 point in 300D )
  • Faster Download speed for pics (USB 2.0 vs USB 1.0)
  • Bigger and better images (8.2 MP, better noise performance vs 6.3 MP)

300D is definitely smaller and lighter. But again, I was not shopping for a point and shoot here. I was shopping for serious photography, so I had size and weight at bottom of my priority list anyway. So it came down to, "can I justify spending $600 more?" Looking at the difference above, and thinking long term... Absolutely! I had learned my lessons well on G5 and knew what I wanted - a fast camera with great low light performance, that will last long. And definitely 20D was better at that then 300D. Still, I decided to put it off for a couple of more months to see if the prices go down further for 20D.

Canon Digital Rebel XT : 350D
Earlier this year, right around when I was closing in on placing my order, canon announced the next incarnation of 300D, the Canon Digital Rebel XT - 350D. And this caused a lot of dilemma! 350D or 20D ?(many folks are going through this right now... May be you too... Hmm let me get inside your head).

By all means, 350D was more like 20D's guts and brains cramped into the 300D's body and then shrunk even further. Moreover, 350D was to be sold at $500 less then 20D. So why in the world myself or anybody else would buy a 20D instead of this 350D. Well this is a completely debatable topic that can compete with Canon vs Nikon argument. There are strong reasons to buy either of these cameras. It's upto you to find out what is more appealing to you. Below is a list of what I thought about these differences.

Image size
20D : 8.2MP
350D : 8 MP
This was negligible.

Image Quality
They have different sensor, but both camera produce almost equal quality pics in identical conditions. A pro may nitpick little bit here and there. But hey, if you and me can not see the difference even at closer inspection, the difference is not there.

Build Quality
20D: Very robust, Magnesium Alloy Body with Rubber Grip.
350D: Plastic Body, no rubber grip.
First time, when I held my friend's Olympus C5060 camera in my hand, I could feel the difference between his camera and my plastic body Canon G5. C5060 felt much more robust because of it's magnesium alloy body. So I was definitely biased towards 20D with Magnesium Alloy body. Also, for someone, just wandering into dSLR world for "higher megapixel" or "better image quality" or "smarter auto modes", preferences would be still like "I still want something light and small". I was coming in from a different angle. I wanted to build a good lineup of lenses over the coming years. So whatever I get had to last few years, and had to be able to hold heavier lenses. Naturally I would go with 20D.

20D : No doubt this guy is heavy, 27.2 oz
350D : And this one is even lighter then 300D, Only 19.0 oz.
Now that is a BIG difference of weight. But again, that's what it will be if you want it robust and well built. You cannot be an 8 seater, off road vehicle and be feather weight at the same time.

20D is 0.7 inch longer, 0.5 inch taller and 0.3 inch thicker then 350D. 350D is actually even smaller then 300D. For me, a person with relatively large hands, 350D felt too small for a better grip, while 20D would just fill my hands for a perfect stable grip.

Another temptation was, why not get 350D + a nice Canon lens with Image stabilization, in the same amount for which I'll get 20D with the entry level kit lens? Well, I thought, lens I can always add later on. Why compromise on camera body right now?

So I ended up choosing 20D over 350D as well. Even though the image quality differences were minimal, I selected 20D for better ergonomics and robust build quality.

Why not Nikon D70 ?
In the week I was about to place an order for 20D, I had a couple of friends over for dinner. When the topic came up, I was asked if I considered Nikon D70. And I had to admit, I had not looked at D70 closely. Eventhough I was so close to ordering 20D, I thought I should at least take a close look at 20D vs D70 comparison. And few things jumped out to me.

  • D70 was Nikon's answer to Canon 300D and was lot more like 20D or 350D then like 300D.
  • It was NOT magnesium alloy body.
  • Noise performance was not as good as 20D.
  • It's a 6.0 MP camera compared to 8.2 in 20D
  • The price difference was in the range of $200 to $300

Canon or Nikon
While looking at the comparison, what I realized was, this was not a simple Camera Model choice. This was a whole product line and brand choice for future investments as well. Once I choose Canon I'll be buying Canon's EF or EF-s Lenses. Once I choose Nikon, I'll be buying Nikkor lenses etc. Obviously with no experience of Nikon product, I'd feel better selecting something from my safety zone only, and that's what I did. Also, both of my friends who suggested the Nikon product, were themselves Nikon owners and had not tried Canon products yet. We all have our own safety zones! So 20D was it for me. My Canon vs Nikon decision was not completely objective so instead of going into details of 20D vs D70, I thought it would be best to document the main reason, my safety zone!

Update #1

If you are looking for side by side comparison of 300D, 350D, 20D and D70 then the right place to look at is the side by side feature comparison at dpreview.com. Use this as a starting point and then read full reviews for each of these cameras.

Update #2

  • dpreview.com has detailed comparison of 350D with 300D, 20D and D70 as part of 350D review.
  • bobatkins.com has nicely summarized Rebel XT vs 20D.
  • kenrockwell.com has detailed comparison of 20D vs D70.

Why not wait for the next model ?
Finally, why buy now? Canon has been announcing new dSLRs on annual basis. Why not wait for the next model that is very likely to show up this fall? Of course patience has its pay offs. But for me that pay off was the reduction in prices over the past few months that I had been petiently waiting. Also, getting a camera in fall means wasting a whole summer. And of course my baby daughter is growing fast! I wanted to take lots of pics of her in this first year. I just didn't see any point in waiting for next dSLR from Canon.

And frankly, after doing enough research, you reach a point where you just want to commit and move on to the real stuff... Taking a lot of pictures that is. That's what Photography is all about!

As this blog is about "sharing experiences" related to digital photography, I thought documenting my product decisions was an important part of it. I hope all my blabber above would help someone trying to enter the dSLR world in making the right choice for themselves. If you are a Nikon lover, wait for 1 month as they will announce a new dSLR by this month end. If you are a Canon lover, go get a 350D or 20D. Don't waste a summer!


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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Winners announced for 2005 Pulitzer Prize

Been too occupied lately with other pending stuff (April 15th is coming closer, so it's tax time) ... so didn't get chance to finish the second part - "Why I chose Canon EOS 20D" - yet.

But here is something that I think every amateur and pro photographer should take a look at for inspiration. Winners for the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for year 2005 were announced on 4/4/05 for multiple categories. Two of them relevant to photography are Feature Photography and Breaking News photography.

Feature Photography : Deanne Fitzmaurice (some graphic content) , San Francisco Chronicle

Breaking News Photography : Associated Press Staff (strong graphic content) , Associated Press

While going through these works, one thing that clearly stands out is that - the most important aspect of the image is a strong and clear subject. A strong and clear subject leaves a lasting impression on the viewer regardless of the other technical qualities of the image !

Also check their archive galleries for previous years winners and their works.