canon camera

Enough with the megapixels and ISO!

What I want from the camera manufacturers

I was talking with Jared Platt and Jim Schmelzer after the classes I helped them with at Glazer's Camera's PhotoFest 2017 in Seattle today. After some technical discussions about high speed sync, hypersync, and old ASCOR strobes the conversation turned to camera features. Here are two, no make that three, changes we would like to see in ISO and megapixels. I have no idea if these are practical or feasible, but hey! Let's at least put it out there.


The discussion of high speed sync led to our agreement that we don't need any more super high ISO settings. For portraits, especially outside with fill flash, we want LOW ISO settings. ISO 32, ISO 25, and even ISO 10 would be so welcome. Then we could more easily balance daylight exposures with fill flash and have some headroom to adjust shutter speed to control the ambient light levels without having the resort to high speed sync. High speed sync (HSS) is great. But it comes with a price--lower output power. Our lights have to be very close to our subjects with HSS. If we could go to a lower ISO we could keep the lights in regular sync mode and have the power available to back them up out of the frame or to use a larger light modifier with them. Right now the only way to do this with studio power level strobes that don't offer HSS is to use neutral density filters, and that has other complications, like difficulty focusing and dealing with color shifts from ND filters that aren't quite neutral. Are lower ISO settings too much to ask for?

If you aren't familiar with what is sometimes called syncro-sun flash, it is basically using a flash unit to supply fill light on a sunny day to lessen the shadows on your subject. You take an ambient light reading without the flash (let's say that is 1/60 at f/22 at ISO 100) and then you set your flash power to give an appropriate amount of light to open up the shadows. I picked the 1/60 shutter speed so that I have some headroom in case I want to vary the shutter speed to darken the ambient light exposure vs the flash. So, I could go as far as 1/200 to darken the ambient by 1 and 2/3 stops. But I am at f/22 and would much rather be somewhere around f/4 to lessen the depth of field and make the background less distracting. F/22 to f/4 is 5 stops. I could use a 5-stop neutral density filter on the lens to bring down the ambient light level to allow the f/4 aperture. 5 stops is a lot of light being cut out. It is going to give you a very dark viewfinder for composing and focusing. And it might be too dark for autofocus to work.

If, however, ISO 12 was available, the ambient exposure would be 1/60 at f/8 (3 stops different) and then only a 2 stop ND filter would be needed to get the exposure to f/4. Much easier to look through the viewfinder to compose and focus.

Enough with the megapixels!!

How many of us need more than about 20 - 24 megapixels? What if a camera manufacturer took a high megapixel sensor and used some of the pixels to extend dynamic range?

There are lens arrays that let you adjust focus after making the photo (see plenopticsa). And think of the Bayer filter array currently used to create color images. You have a red, a blue, and 2 green pixels that are used to create our color images. What if someone made an array of pixels that, in addition to color, produced an output of a dark, normal, and bright pixels that could be combined to create a kind of high dynamic range image without having to resort to combining multiple images in post processing? All the information would be in one file, so no worry about any movement during the bracketing sequence.

ISO Bracketing

Normally, we would bracket by taking a series of images in quick succession changing the f/stop (which changes the depth of field, which might affect alignment of the multiple images) or by changing the shutter speed (which changes the ability to stop motion, affecting alignment, and which won't work with flash exposures) on each of the images in the bracket. A third bracketing option is to bracket the ISO, but that usually requires additional equipment, like the CamRanger until camera manufacturers get wise to the need for ISO bracketing and add that to their cameras. If the bracketing could be done within one image you wouldn't have to worry about the change in depth of field or about subject movement between images. OK, so that's three things I want from the camera manufacturers, not two.

I haven't upgraded my Canon 5D MkIII or 6D bodies to newer higher megapixel models like the 5D MkIV or 5DSR. I don't need more megapixels. But if a new camera was introduced with better dynamic range and lower ISO settings, I'd be looking hard at purchasing the new model.

How about you? Do you see the benefits of lower ISO (they don't have to remove the higher ISO settings, those can stay, too), better dynamic range, or ISO bracketing? Please comment below.


Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless Camera issues

I love this camera

Let's get that out of the way. At first I had my doubts about Canon's move into the mirrorless market. The first few M-series cameras just weren't doing anything for me. But when I saw the M5 with its viewfinder and read the specs I decided to go for it and purchased the camera from my favorite camera store, Glazer's Camera here in Seattle. I have not been disappointed. Check out my earlier post comparing the image from the EOS 5M with an EOS 6D.

I initially purchased it to be my everyday carry-around camera, but have ended up using it more and more, sometimes in place of my usual 5D mkiii and 6D bodies. I opted to get the body-only version of the M5 along with the Canon Mount Adapter EF EOS M so I could use my current collection of EF and EFs lenses. I just wasn't happy with the slow apertures on the EOS M mount lenses available at the time. I wasn't (and still am not) bothered by having the adapter on the camera. In fact, I use the adapter as my tripod mount and as the mount for my ever-present handstrap. More on that later*.

All that said, I have run into a few small issues with the operation of the camera. These don't affect image quality or anything like that. And I haven't heard from anyone else about these. So I'm posting here to see if anyone chimes in with a "me, too" or a "no, never had that happen" comment.

Recycling file names?

The "biggie" for me is in the file naming/numbering system. I have found that when I fill a memory card and put in a new one the camera doesn't go to the next filename/number. Instead, it  goes back and reuses a few numbers. Then I end up with different images on different memory cards with the same file name coming out of the camera. Here is a video that I hope better explains what I am experiencing...

In the video I formatted the new card before using it, but I have seen the same thing happen if I just put in a card without formatting it.

I originally noticed this when I brought some images into Lightroom and when done importing the two cards I saw a few images with a "-2" added to the filenames. I knew I didn't have duplicate images, and it took me a while to figure it out (which happened the next time I filled a card in the middle of a photo session). In the menu system I have it set to Create Folder: Monthly and File Numbering: Continuous.

Let me know the memory card is full

The second issue is somewhat related to above. When the memory card is full the camera doesn't pop up a big warning in the viewfinder or on the back screen saying "card full" (like on its dSLR big brothers). Instead it just says 0/0 in the viewfinder and I sit there pressing the shutter button over and over wondering why the camera stopped working. The "No memory card" and "Cannot record" messages are similarly small and not as noticeable as on the dSLR bodies. I am hoping that a firmware upgrade at some point could add a more visible notice that the memory card is full.

EOS 5M "card full" warning (not very noticeable while trying to photograph)

EOS 5M "card full" warning (not very noticeable while trying to photograph)

EOS 6D Card full warning (much easier to notice)

EOS 6D Card full warning (much easier to notice)

Tell me there is no memory card installed

Third is that there doesn't seem to be a menu option to prevent taking a photo with no memory card installed. You get the small "No Memory Card" and "Cannot record" messages in the viewfinder or on the back of the camera, but it still allows you to operate the shutter. There is a "Release shutter without lens" option. Again, maybe a firmware upgrade can add this menu option as on the dSLR bodies. 

Over stablizing?

The fourth issue has to do with using lenses with Image Stabilization. When using the Canon EF 70-200 L F/4 IS lens and the Canon EFs 55-250 F/4-5.6 I notice that once I tap the shutter button the IS engages and stays on until I turn it off via the switch on the lens or by turning the camera off. On my dSLR bodies the IS disengages about 3 seconds after I lift pressure off the shutter button. Continuous AutoFocus is turned OFF on the camera. I worry about two things here, wearing out the IS components by being always on and battery life, which is already kind of poor because of the smaller battery in the smaller body and the electronic viewfinder. As an aside, I often fantasize that some day Canon will surprise mirrorless owners by sending a free spare battery to everyone who registers their camera). 

*Using the lens adapter tripod mount

Up above I mentioned the EF to EOS M adapter and tripod mount. I don't have any EOS M lenses, so the adapter is permanently mounted on my camera. And I keep my Peak Design Pro Plate attached to the adapter instead of to the camera. Most photographers who know me know that I live by the hand strap. Unfortunately, my favorite hand strap, the Peak Design Clutch, is too big for use with the small mirrorless body. So I went with the SpiderLight Hand Strap (which had an orange trim available) for the EOS M5. I attach the hand strap to the lens adapter, too. I feel that this gives a good balance. takes some stress off of the camera's tripod socket with longer and heavier lenses attached, and it makes sure that the battery/memory card door on the bottom of the camera is free to open and close without having to move the tripod plate or the hand strap out of the way. I don't think it would work at all if I used the tripod mount on the camera body instead of on the lens adapter.

Canon EF to EOS M lens adapter has a tripod mount where I attach my tripod plate and my ever-present hand strap.

Canon EF to EOS M lens adapter has a tripod mount where I attach my tripod plate and my ever-present hand strap.

This way of mounting the plate and strap leaves the battery/memory door clear to open and close unobstructed.

This way of mounting the plate and strap leaves the battery/memory door clear to open and close unobstructed.

I also have my Peak Design anchor link attached to the plate for those times I do use a neck strap.

I also have my Peak Design anchor link attached to the plate for those times I do use a neck strap.

I can change the battery and/or the memory card even when the camera is mounted on my tripod.

I can change the battery and/or the memory card even when the camera is mounted on my tripod.

Are you using a Canon EOS M5? Do you like it? have you noticed any of the above issues? Please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

What do the images look like?

Here is a gallery of images in chronological order made with the Canon EOS M5 in a variety of situations, including theatre, studio, events, nature, etc.

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John Cornicello