Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This better be it! - Spring is here!

The last bit of snow in my driveway melted yesterday and on the same day crocus showed up in our front yard... Ahhhhh. This must be the sure sign we've all been waiting for. I will completely ignore the fact that it was cold this morning, dark clouds were rolling in over the valley and that it snowed at Silver Star this morning.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour

We survived "Earth Hour". Amazing. No TV, no lights, no computer.... what to do? Well in our household the list included reading a book, knitting, talking, laughing, playing guitar, taking the above photo. As I am in the middle of translating at big stack of letters from 1919 I undeniably started thinking. How did they fill up their evenings back then? I do know they wrote a lot of letters and probably went to bed earlier than we do but were their lives richer?

Volleyball Meet, Vernon

The girls were busy all day at VSS high school. I witnessed an exciting game between our own A and B teams. Link to my SmugMug site for all the shots.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Canon EOS 5D Mark II - Camera Review

This review has been updated. Please link to the Updated Review

An unscientific camera review by Morten Byskov - mfoto.ca

(Tech Talk Warning)

In a blog post back in November I had written that I wasn’t all that interested in the 5D II and here I am four months later writing about my first impressions of the the camera. The main thing holding me back from getting the 5D II in November was the hope that Canon would have released a 1D Mark IV. This obviously has not happened and I needed a second camera for the summer assignments coming up. I also did not want to get the 5D II right after the release. I wanted to be sure that any early problems had been ironed out. I have now had the camera for about three weeks.

EF 16-35 2.8L, 1/800, ISO 160, click to view larger image

Before getting the 5D II and I had tested the 1D Mark III on a couple of occasions. The 1D III lost out in part because of the price point. A used 1D III costs about the same as a new 5D II. The ever-ongoing auto focus stigma also had me looking away from the 1D III. The day after I ordered the 5D II there was another recall notice for the 1D III.

EF 85 1.2L II, 1/100, f/1.8, ISO 320, click for a larger view

When coming from the 5D, the 5D II feels familiar but just bit larger and studier than the original. I like the new finishing and the buttons are laid out with just a bit more thought although it is almost the same. I especially like where the ISO button is located. It just seems easier to get to. It feels good in the hands for sure. No creaky CF card door here (update - after two months I do now feel the creaky CF door. It is not that noticeably after I have added the grip). The main dial however has switched on me a few times, more so that I remember it with the original 5D. The LCD: no surprise here but it is really is much better and is a very useful improvement. The pictures look stunning on this display and it is much easier to judge AF, histogram etc. Browsing through menus is improved and it was a breeze to setup “my favorite” menu. I have yet to play with the C1, C2 and C3 custom settings. I shoot almost extensive on the M and AV settings.

EF 16-35 2.8L, 1/100, f/8, ISO 100, click for a larger view

The 5D II seems more proned for getting dust on the focusing screen. It’s easy to get off with a swab from Visible Dust but someone explain to me why the difference can be so significant. No deal breaker but slightly annoying. I have had a few dust spots on the sensor which the built in dust shaker/remover has taken care of but this camera seems to like dust every bit as much as the original. I do change lenses often so this of course does not help the matter.

EF 135 2L, 1/160, f/4.5, ISO 100, click for a larger view

AF seems better to me and is just a tad more consistent. Not a huge improvement and probably not a worthy match for the 1D series. As many before me have wished, having 1D focus in this body would be a fantastic but it is not so. Sport assignments over the summer will really show how it fares.

EF 85 1.2L II, 1/1250, f/1.2, ISO 100, click for a larger view

FPS. The camera seems surprisingly more “alive” than the original although fps. is only up by 1. The 4 frames per second are sufficient for my needs but ideally 6 to 8 frames fps. would have been cool.

And now to the most important part, the photos. At 21.1 mega pixels this camera shows resolution unparalleled to most cameras out there and it’s clear to see as soon as you start editing your first files. As this is an unscientific review I will not get into 100% crops or ISO differences from 5D to 5D II. There are plenty of sites doing a good job at this. I can only tell you that I was going over some wedding portraits I took over the past weekend. I thought I had shot these at a much lower ISO. They were indeed taken at ISO 1000 and I thought they looked stunning.

EF 135 2L, 1/160, f/2.0, ISO 1000, click to view a larger image
2 x Elinchrom 500 BXri used for this shot

I also shot a rail jam at 12800 ISO and was very impressed with the results.

EF 300 2.8L IS, 1/1000, f/2.8, ISO 12800, click to view a larger image

I did a few soccer shots at an indoor arena and again shooting at 6400 ISO yielded very good/usable results in my opinion, certainly an improvement over the 5D.

EF 300 2.8L IS, 1/400, f/2.8, ISO 6400, click to view a larger image

Work flow: I was quite worried about the work flow issues prior to getting the camera. My 17” MacBook Pro, 2.5 Ghz, has 4 gigs of RAM, a 7200 rpm 200 gig hard drive and it has handled the transition much better that I had feared. Conversion of the RAW files may take about another second. I am bit impatient when it comes to this but the difference is only very slight. I import photos to iPhoto and then edit in CS4. I did upgrade my card reader to a Lexar firewire UDMA reader in order to get speedier transfer to the computer and this has proved to be a well worth investment. I went CF card shopping and have added one 4 GB UDMA card 300x, and two 8 GB 233x cards. Shooting a wedding on the weekend the cards were certainly needed. Make no mistake about it, the 5D II files are huge.

EF 300 2.8L IS, 1/1250, f/3.5, ISO 400, Click for a larger view

Video: I did not purchase the 5D II because of the HD video but it’s pretty cool. I have read complaints that you have very little control over the video and no AF. Auto focus certainly would have been nice but I actually enjoy the no fuss approach to this part of the camera. I have shot a few videos, mostly with my 16-35 and I have to say, I am quite pleased with the quality. Below is a link to to three HD files. For the first two I am using the 16-35 and for the last video a 50 1.8. The files are edited and compressed for web using iMovie.

Jumps at the Junior Nationals Freestyle Event
Rail Jam competion at Silver Star Mountain Resort
A cross country ski with friends
Hazy Tuesday

EF 85 1.2L II, 1/200, ISO 100, click for a larger view
2 x Elincrhom 500 BXRi used for this shot

Conclusion: So far I am very happy with this tool. Going into the 5D II my expectations were actually low. Before getting it I had spent some time with the 1D III so I thought I would miss the 10 fps., the rugged build, AF and more manageable file sizes. I was very happy with my 5D and was not sure that I would be that impressed with the 5D II files. I still like the fact that the 5D II is much more compact than a 1 series camera. If you shoot sports or need more support when shooting with larger lenses you can still put the grip on your 5D II. You cannot remove the grip from a 1D. Last but not least I am still in awe over the quality of the files coming out of the camera. The dynamic range is better, white balance seems to more spot on and I think my post processing time will be shorter in the future.

One issue which has me slightly worried. I think I may have lost my 5D.

EF 16-35 2.8L, 1/2500, f/5, ISO 200, click to view a larger image

(Update, April 30th 2009)
I have now added the BG-E6 grip to the 5D II. I have had grips for my 20D and 5D in the past so I knew that at some point I would add it to the 5D II also. I especially like to use the grip for shooting soccer with my 300 2.8L. I shoot it mounted on a mono pod and it works great for when shooting in the vertical position. The shot above is actually a good example of what happens without the grip. It is OK for a short period of time but it get ackward when shooting a full game of soccer. I also have a couple of sports assigments this summer where the grip is a must have.

(Update, October 4th 2009)
I have now had the 5D II for about 7 months and can report back that the camera still works very well. I have shot several weddings over the summer and the advantages here have been numerous. Better auto focus and better files which are easier to work with in post would be the first things coming to mind. The larger file sizes are a challenge though and the external hard drives are filling up fast. The extra CF cards have come in handy as I can now shoot a full wedding without having to delete cards. Above you will see I mention a problem with dust on the focusing screen. I was driving me nuts so I can tell you that I have found a good solution to this problem in the form an "Artic Butterfly" from Visible Dust. I have shot several sporting event over the summer and the AF has not been a problem. The summer 2009 will mostly be remembered for a couple of great trips I took with the 5D II. Check out the link to my Travel Galleries at SmugMug and check out many 5D II shots.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Amy & Chace's Wedding

Spring arrived just in time for Amy and Chace's wedding. Many of us had been a tad worried in the weeks leading up to the big day as it seamed as if winter would never end. Sunny skies and warm weather was just what we needed and the day went very well for the new couple. I say this as it wasn't hard to tell that they had a great time.

We did the family photos at O'Keefe Ranch. As we still have snow on the ground for the most part we set up for the photos in the barn. This was a great idea and made for a unique setting.

Congratulation Amy and Chace and thanks for letting us be part of your wedding day.

Please link to my SmugMug site for all the photos from the day.

Please follow the link for Prices and Options for our Wedding Coverage.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Amy & Chace, The Rehearsal

I was at The Vernon Alliance Church today. Amy and Chace had gathered up the wedding party for the rehearsal. The decorations were fantastic and I won't ruin the surprise by posting photos. I will however post two or three. I cannot help but post the first shot... I hope it speaks for itself :-) Next are a couple of my favorite portraits of the day.

Please follow the link for Prices and Options for our Wedding Coverage.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Skiing with a group of friends made me pull out the book of excuses on Sunday. It was like Letterman's top ten. 1. My skis needs to be waxed, 2. my poles are too short, 3. What did you guys have for breakfast, 4. You guys are just killing me. At any rate I just ran out of excuses and have decided that I must pick up some slack and get in better shape as these guys just out skied me. The video is recorded with the 5D II and a 50mm lens and you can link to the HD version here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Amy & Chace's Wedding, Sat. March 21

The countdown is on for Amy and Chace's wedding coming up this weekend. We met on Sunday and discussed the final details. Amy & Chace have lots of good ideas for photos so I am really looking forward to capturing their wedding on Saturday. Stay tuned to this gallery where photos will be uploaded after the wedding.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Letters from 1919

I have embarked on a bit of a journey via a translation job. This is going to be very interesting. The letters were written ninety years ago by a young woman in Denmark. She is just about to get married and the letters will take me on the journey from Denmark to Canada. It will be a story much like my own I think except this woman immigrated to Canada exactly 74 years before I did. There are at least fifty letters so this will be quite a project. Some of the letters are more than 10 pages long and bares little resemblance to todays short emails or text messages.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lumby Stars, Pee Wee Hockey

The Lumby Stars Pee Wee Hockey Team are playoff champions this year so you could say they are more than ready for the Provincials later this months. I was in Lumby last night to capture images for the official program. It was great to meet the friendly coaching staff and fun to see the boys. As you can see from the photos some of the boys have already dyed their hair in preparation for the Provincials.

One of my favorite head shots:

The boys were in charge for their own poses for a series of shots with the banner. Here is one of my favorites:

You can view all the team and individual portraits on my SmugMug site. Special pricing has been put in place for parents who wishes to buy prints.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rail Jam, Silver Star Mountain

Friday night saw plenty of action in the village at Silver Star Mountain Resort. These guys are down right amazing. I am in awe as they land snowboards and skis on this narrow rail and glide down in style. Most times it goes well and other times.... well watch the clip below or you you would like to see the finer details, link to the HD version on my SmugMug site.


HD video from Junior Nationals Freestyle

I got a chance to get really close to the action on Friday and have now edited some footage from the aerial site of the event. View the video below but better yet link to the HD version on my SmugMug site.

Monday, March 9, 2009

More Freestyle from Friday

A "second shooter" :-) joined me for the freestyle event on Friday. I have now had a chance to edit some of the many great shots she took and have added these in the Freestyle Gallery.

Photo by Diana Byskov

Friday, March 6, 2009

Freestyle - Junior Nationals - Silver Star

A bit of action for you from Friday's Junior National Freestyle at Silver Star Mountain. Just click the photo or link into my gallery at SmugMug to see more.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Monday, March 2, 2009

Catching up on a Week

Well here we go. The blog has kind of come to a stand still for about a week. Things are far from standing still but the blog unfortunately has taken a back seat for a few days.

I made it up for a downhill ski last Wednesday. It was great to get out but unfortunately the day was cut quite short as my friend Leighton decided to take a breathtaking tumble down "Sunny Ridge" on the backside of the mountain. The key here... always bring your camera and of course I didn't. Ski patrol took Leighton away and he also got a chance to check out the hospitality at Vernon Jubilee Hospital. Unbelievably he was OK and was quickly cured by a few pain killers. Leighton was skiing the next day. What a guy.

Thursday and Friday I had a couple of photo shoots... more about these in another post. The weekend was dominated by domestic duties which have a way of piling up during the week.

The shots in this post were taken on my way back from an interior shoot on Friday.

ASI Action Sports International Team

I have joined ASI Action Sports International as a sports shooter. I am pretty excited about this as I this will take me on the road for a sporting events in our region. First shoot will June 27th in Seattle WA, for the Rock'n Roll Seattle Marathon. Next up is the Osoyoos half Ironman on July 12th. Last but not least I will be shooting at the Subaru Ironman Canada in Penticton on August 30th. The Ironman in Penticton will be a photographers ironman as I will be shooting along side a team of ASI photographers for 18 hours. Thanks Carl for recommending me to ASI.