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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Keep Your Powder Dry

Dry In A Drizzle Or A Downpour • Button, Button, Who’s Got The Button? • Noise Reduction: On Or Off? • Waves And Bends • New Endeavors

Labels: How-ToColumnTech Tips

During one entire rainy week in Denali National Park & Preserve in Alaska, we had sunshine for only half a day. Overcast skies and saturated foliage can offer excellent conditions and texture for your photography, however, as long as you have protection for your gear. Raindrops on water provide a dramatic background to these two loons in a pond, photographed in light rain with a Canon EOS 7D and Canon EF 500mm ƒ/4L lens with a 1.4X tele-extender, 1/180 sec. at ƒ/6.7, ISO 320.

Dry In A Drizzle Or A Downpour
Q While I was photographing a cowboy race in San Diego, a very heavy fog with drizzle rolled in. I had to keep the camera under my jacket until the moment to shoot, tuck it back in and run to my next mark for a shot. That got pretty cumbersome and tiresome after a while. What would you recommend for camera rain gear?
A. Kaus
Via the Internet

A Some of the newer professional DSLRs and lenses are very well sealed, and you can work safely with them in damp conditions short of a downpour. Examples of these bodies in Canon’s line would be the 1 series (1D and 1Ds) and the pro D series in Nikon’s line. Beyond the high prices of these robust bodies and lenses, there’s an additional cost in heft and weight. So let me assure you first that you won’t achieve a less cumbersome rainy-day system by spending more money on equipment!

The least expensive way to keep your camera dry is a plastic Ziploc® bag. Cut a hole in the front for the lens, attach it over the front of the lens with a rubber band, and place your hands inside the back opening to operate the camera, being careful not to transfer moisture to the controls. Economy is about the only upside to this system; it rips easily, is cumbersome and annoying, and doesn’t convey a professional approach.

There are a number of products made specifically to cover a variety of DSLR body and lens combinations. I like the Storm Jacket from Vortex Media (www.stormjacket.com), which has a good selection of body/lens and flash attachment covers, running from $36 to $59 in several colors. (If you’re photographing rodeos featuring bulls, I wouldn’t recommend the red one.) Another company offering similar products is Kata (www.kata-bags.us).

Button, Button, Who’s Got The Button?
Q I have a Canon EOS 30D and just recently bought a EOS 7D. I’m primarily a bird photographer. I was curious if using the AI Servo mode when you’re not tracking a moving subject would have a tendency to work against you—it seems the camera would be trying to track when it doesn’t need to, perhaps reacting to vibration or some slight movement. Is it best to take the camera out of AI Servo mode when you’re shooting a stationary subject like a landscape or a portrait?
T. Richey
Via the Internet

A Ideally, you’ll leave the camera in AI Servo mode at all times, so you’ll be ready for anything that happens. The problem with this is that the camera refocuses—and sometimes finds a new, unintended subject to place in sharp focus—whenever you partially depress the shutter button to take the photograph. But there’s a way to set up your EOS 7D (and other Canon DSLRs) to give you better control over autofocus of both moving and stationary subjects. Custom Function 4, Number 1 transfers your autofocus action from the shutter release to the AF-ON button on the back of the camera, conveniently located for thumb activation by right-handed photographers. If the button is pressed, AI Servo is active—perfect for moving subjects.

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