Canon 5Dmk2 with a 24-105mm lens and two Canon flashes. And now for the BIG NEWS you've been waiting for......how I used the flashes.
The week started with some telephone meetings with book publishers and editors. And by Tuesday I was moving with dispatch on other, unrelated projects. I had an assignment to photograph "some people" with our governor for "some companies and organizations" so I packed up my black Domke F2 camera bag and headed over to the Texas State Capitol. The governor uses a room on the second floor for all kinds of public and private receptions and small presentations and ceremonies. I was no newcomer to the governor's press room as I worked for Governor Mark White back in the early 1980's and photographed Governor Ann Richards there back in the 1990's.
The room is wide from side to side and narrow from front to back. From the door behind me to the wall with the flags that faces south the depth of the room is probably 25 feet. The ceiling is pretty high and the walls are all a nice off white. I'd be shooting with at least two other professional photographers and one camera crew. The camera crew brought a Lowell Omni light which they threw some diffusion over and then feathered toward the main shooting area. Hello shadows and orange light.
I learned long ago not to use direct flash in that room. Better options exist. But my main goal, since I was tasked with getting good group shots, was to get an good wash of soft clean light that would flatter the crew in the group with the governor. The flash would have to overpower the indirect, non continuous lighting that rimmed the high ceiling and the warm light coming from the chandeliers hanging just above head level.
I placed one Canon 430ex2 on a table to my left and bounced it into the white wall there. I used it in the "slave" mode and it was triggered by the Master, a Canon 580ex2 flash. I turned the business end of the flash around and angled it up so it illuminated the wall and part of ceiling directly behind me. Using the Canon 5Dmk2 meant it could easily handle ISO 800 with very little noise. I used the flash on TTL and the camera on manual. All the frames were easily within a good range of exposure and color. The current Canon flash system is pretty good. Probably as good as Nikon's if you take time to read Syl Arena's book, Speedliter and understand how to make it work.
We arrived at the capitol building at 1 pm with the intention of checking out the room and setting up our lighting and arranging furniture with the idea that we'd be starting to shoot at 2:10 pm. (I'm always early. It's much better than late.....). We ended up starting our "program" and getting our photo ops around 3:15 pm. Pretty much par for the course.
So, what do you wear when you go to photograph the governor and leaders from other countries? Pretty much the same stuff we wear to corporate receptions for visiting foreign dignitaries. Charcoal gray suit, a shirt with thin white lines on a French Blue background, and a muted burgundy tie. Just for this occasion I wore my best jet black cowboy boots. (Now I have to change my "about me" on my website to reflect my wardrobe upgrade). One media producer wore jeans. He was the only one in the entire room to do so.....
I got what I needed and headed back home to the office to color correct, edit and upload. The client dropped by an hour later to pick up the entire take on DVD. Job done.
Now, I'm sure you all want to know: "Is Rick Perry running for president?"
How should I know? I just take photographs.
Keep your VF-2's ready. Here comes the latest micro four thirds camera. Olympus announced the new EP-3 and it seems to cover two of the most important bases Olympus needed to cover in order to stay relevant to a huge number of photographers. It now (according to Olympus and the people who've had the camera in hand) has been re-engineered to focus as quickly as a regular DSLR and there's a new sensor that is reputed to be at least one stop better in high ISO noise performance than its predecessor. In my mind the EP2, which I assume the 3 will replace, was a really fun shooting camera and it had only those two faults. If the performance of the 3 matches the hype then this might be the camera that all of us Olympus fans have been looking for to carry the brand forward.
Why is this important? Because my belief is that consumers want smaller cameras, the vast majority of non-rabid photographers don't really give a darn about the sensor size in theory or practice as long as the camera works and works well. Most people are less concerned about dropping backgrounds out of focus than they are with getting everything they want in focus. And smaller sensors do that better.
Anecdotally I can attest to the popularity of this format in general, and these Olympus cameras in particular, by looking at the metrics on this blog site. Though I've written over 625 blogs and covered many cool cameras the run away, most read, most debated and most linked article I've written to date is the review of the inexpensive EPL2 from Olympus. The article has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times in the last several months.
This really is a convergence of what people in general (90% of the camera buying population) want: It's small, capable, has great image quality, beats the pants off their cellphone cameras, lets them change lenses, make movies and much more. Will this particular camera be a winner? I think it's a slam dunk. It's beautifully designed and Olympus seems to have finally delivered the kind of performance that camera junkies crave and measure.
Will I buy one? It's already on order. I haven't played with one yet but the guys at Olympus know I'm ready to get my hands on one. If they send a test model to me soon I'll have a review up that will be so in depth I'll be giving Atlas Shrugged a contest for page count. Confession: I love these Pen cameras and have done some really fun work with them. I also love using them with my large collection of original, manual focus Pen lenses from the 1970's. Go Olympus!!!!
Added at 10:40pm the same day. I respect Bill Beebe. He wrote a great perspective piece about the endless introduction of new gear. His inspiration was this product launch. His piece made me stop and think about gerbils on wheels. You should read this too. Just for a bit of gear perspective: http://blogbeebe.blogspot.com/2011/06/olympus-e-p3-too-little-too-late.html