Photographers Equimpent…

Its easy to get wound up! When you are made to walk half an mile with tons of heavy kit, because the steward on the gates doesn’t understand that to get your car park pass, you actually need to get in the car park. When another steward, in a bright yellow, photo destroying jacket stands in your background, just as a world record is about to be broken. When you unpack your kit and realise you’ve forgotten an essential bit of gear. When you are stuck in traffic on the M6. When you have Getty on one side and PA on the other, you know as Joe Freelance, you are stuffed. When Canon/Nikon announce the new super camera the week after you buy the old one.

But with this in mind, the most essential piece of photographers equipment is…

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Helvellyn, 950 metres, February 10th.

Today involved a quick trip to the Lake District and a hot walk up Helvelyn under a cloud free blue sky. I forgot the sun cream and it was needed!

Striding Edge from Helvellyn

The view South, from Helvellyn

Canon’s new super lens…

I’m not a big gear freak, well not as bad as some… But I have to admit that I am rather excited by Canon’s latest official announcements. This morning they have announced the development of a new super zoom… a 200-400mm f4 with a built-in 1.4x extender. Its going to be expensive, that’s for sure, but what a lens this has the potential to be!

Going from 200mm at f4 all the way to 560mm at f5.6, without having to take it off your camera to fit an extender, so no chance of dust attacking your sensor, or dropping something as you fumble to fit it all back together, this is truly ground breaking.

For sports, news and wildlife photographers, I can see this being a must have lens, almost to the extent that we all rely on our 70-200mm f2.8’s today.

Canon EF 500mm & EF 600mm f4L IS USM II

Canon today launches two new super-telephoto lenses for its leading EOS Digital SLR (DSLR) range – the EF 500mm F/4L IS II USM and the EF 600mm F/4L IS II USM. Designed to meet the needs of the most demanding sports and wildlife photographers, both lenses offer breakthrough performance, delivering consistently high-quality images and incredible mobility.

The launch of the models follows a development announcement in August 2010, and the display of prototypes at Photokina 2010 in Cologne, Germany.

Launching into Canon’s professional L-series, the models replace the widely-respected EF 500mm F/4L IS USM and EF 600mm F/4L IS USM , and are designed to achieve unparalleled levels of image quality. Each includes the highest-quality optics and the latest Canon Image Stabilizer (IS) technology, while magnesium alloy constructions with titanium components make each lens significantly lighter and even more durable. Launching as the lightest lens in its class[1], the EF 600mm F/4L IS II USM benefits from an exceptional 27% reduction (1.4kg) in weight compared to its predecessor, while the EF 500mm F/4L IS II USM offers an impressive reduction of 17% (680g).

New levels of performance
Both lenses feature completely redesigned optics, with 16 elements in 12 groups. Canon has over 40 years of experience in the manufacturing of fluorite lens elements, and has utilised two high performance fluorite elements in these lenses– delivering high resolution, high contrast shots rich in detail across the frame.

Both lens’ optical elements feature Canon’s Super Spectra Coatings and a SubWavelength Structure Coating (SWC), optimised to effectively reduce ghosting and flare. A water-repellent fluorine coating is also used on the surface of the front and rear elements, repelling dust and dirt for clearer shots, and keeping the front element free of marks by ensuring water droplets run off the lens quickly.

Enhanced IS, precise AF
Both models feature Canon’s latest Image Stabilizer system, offering outstanding image quality during handheld shooting and allowing users to shoot at speeds up to four times slower than normally required. IS Mode 2 features new algorithms to improve performance when panning, and the new IS Mode 3 is also included, assisting users when switching between subjects by activating the IS unit only during exposure.

Both lenses offer a constant f/4 aperture, allowing photographers to achieve excellent image quality in low light and capture clear, sharp shots of fast-moving subjects. The wide aperture also allows users to creatively isolate their subjects from the background, with a nine-blade circular iris creating beautiful background blur that instantly adds atmosphere to an image.

Rapid, quiet Auto Focus (AF) is provided by a ring-type Ultrasonic Motor (USM). Photographers can also utilise full-time manual focusing functionality, which enables the fine-tuning of focus even when the AF system is activated, providing even greater control over image capture. Power Focus mode also assists users during video shooting, allowing the photographer to smoothly adjust focus during filming by twisting the focus recall ring.

Premium L-series design
Both lenses have been designed as part of Canon’s renowned elite L-series, combining exceptional-quality optics with stylish designs. Both also feature a revised layout, with carefully-positioned controls that improve everyday operation. The AF stop buttons are now location-adjustable, improving ergonomics by allowing users to custom-select the position of the lens grip where the AF stop buttons are located.

Mechanical improvements include optional long or short foot tripod mounts suitable for monopods or tripods. An improved tripod collar rotational mechanism provides a smoother movement when turning the lens from portrait to landscape orientation, and a Kensington-type wire security lock has also been included, keeping the lenses secure during location-based shoots. The robust design is also weatherproof, making both lenses suitable for use in extreme conditions when paired with a weatherproof EOS body.

Pricing and Availability
The EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM is available from mid 2011, priced at £899.00/€10,799.00 RRP incl. VAT.

The EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM is available from mid 2011, priced at £11,299.00/ €13,549.00 RRP incl. VAT.

Canon EF 200-400mm f4 with an integrated extender!

Canon, have today announced the development of a telephoto zoom lens featuring an integrated focal length extender – the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4×.

The lens will be displayed for the first time during CP+, held in Yokohama, Japan.

Designed for Canon’s leading range of EOS Digital SLR cameras, the new lens will be an ideal addition for sports and wildlife photographers, offering exceptional flexibility with a built-in 1.4× extender that creates an increased focal range of 280 – 560mm. Perfect for photographers who require high performance, fast aperture and a flexible telephoto range, the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXTENDER 1.4× will enable photographers to shoot a greater breadth of subjects using a single lens, delivering the best possible image quality at all focal lengths.

EF 200-400 f4 Top down view

Developed as a new addition to Canon’s acclaimed L-series of professional lenses, the new lens will offer an unsurpassed combination of versatility, first-class optical performance and an enhanced weather-proof construction. The model will be released as part of Canon’s continued development of its EF lens line-up, offering enhanced performance and improved functions that cater for the needs of photographers from beginners through to professionals.

Creative Inspiration at its best!

Every once in a while an artist comes along who can change your whole way of thinking, of seeing, of creating! Six months ago “Dark Side Of The Lens” dropped in to my inbox, and since then I have sat and watched it countless times. Through flat spells, before surfing and often just to to twist my mind further.

“If I only scrape a living, at least its a living worth scraping.”

Mikey Smith, must be once of the best talents around at the moment.

If you haven’t seen it already, I urge you to watch it now! If you have already, one more hit isn’t going to hurt.

Gale warnings…

The North Sea

Yesterday, I woke to the shipping forecast, telling me to expect severe gale force 9 in the North Sea, the area I call home! Today the North of England is battered by these gales, blowing from the South West, pulling down trees, snapping telegraph posts and whipping the sea in to a boiling froth of energy.

The sea rages in along the coast, in turmoil, as it is beaten back by the wind blowing from the land.