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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The New Canon EOS 70D Announced


Canon EOS 70D

Filmmakers rejoice! A worthy replacement of the venerable Canon EOS 60D workhorse has arrived. The new Canon EOS 70D will be coming in September 2013 for a retail price of $1199 for body only. For that much coin, you get a 20 megapixel APS-C sized sensor with 19 point AF, 7 fps, touchscreen articulating LCD, built in Wi-Fi and the newly developed Dual Pixel CMOS AF for continuous AF during video recording. Anxious to get your hands on one?

Canon EOS 70D with Dual Pixel CMOS AF


According to Canon, the new Canon EOS 70D coupled with the newly developed Dual Pixel CMOS AF is a "game changer" in the DSLR industry. Of course, we have heard this before with the 2008 Canon EOS 5D Mark II and certainly, Canon has to fill some big shoes at this point! As everybody knows, DSLR's are not conventional camcorders when it comes to AF during video recording. Canon attempted this feat with the Canon EOS Rebel T4i with much disappointment. Should I be cautiously optimistic with the new Dual Pixel CMOS AF of the Canon EOS 70D? I will not hold my breath for too long but there is always hope...

Canon EOS 70D


Let us focus on the positives of the Canon EOS 70D for now. You get a touchscreen LCD like the T4i/T5i, 19 point AF which is an upgrade from 9 points, built in wi-fi like the Canon EOS 6D, a very fast 7 fps shutter rate and plethora of manual video and audio controls for critical filmmaking. Here is an added bonus feature...gone are the days of mode dial rotating every time for video mode, we now have a dedicated movie mode button like the Canon EOS 7D. Hooray! All these goodies make the next couple months until the Canon 70D release in September 2013 give tech addicts the cold sweats!

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sea World's Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin Experience

Sea World's Antartica: Empire of the Penguin Review

Fuse Academy Award winning animated feature Happy Feet with Disney's Star Tours: The Adventure Continues and you get Sea World's Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. Sea World's newest attraction in Orlando, Florida features a motion simulation ride that journeys through a live habitat of real penguins from the Antarctic. This past Memorial Day weekend grand opening of Sea World's newest exhibit met with large crowds including my family. The icy South Pole meets the hot and humid Orlando, Florida!

Sea World's Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin Review in Orlando, Florida.

The freezing temperatures of the exhibit gave much needed relief from the two hours and twenty minute wait in line for Empire of the Penguins attraction in the Florida heat. To be exact, that is 140 minutes of standing in line for a two minute theme park ride. Patience is definitely a virtue!

Sea World's Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin Review

The long line just continued around the exhibit like a never ending Department of Motor Vehicles line. As Florida resident season pass holders, we came to Sea World just for the grand opening weekend of Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins and we expected the crowds and long wait!



With my smallest and lightest DSLR in the world, the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 paired with the Rokinon 8mm T3.8 Fisheye Cine lens, I captured almost the entire 2 minute ride to make a Full HD experience. The fisheye lens gave me a great wide POV perspective without missing any South Pole scenery. BTW, it was really dark and I had to push the ISO setting to 3200 and keep the lens wide open the whole time.

Sea World's Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin motion simulation ride

Sea World's Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin theme park ride is family friendly. My whole family including my two year old daughter could enjoy the icy experience without harm or fear. The only harm came to my sore legs and overheated body from the 2 hour and 20 minute wait in line!

Sea World's Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins in Orlando , Florida.

So my Sea World's Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin verdict? Definitely wait for a couple of months for the crowds to wane, especially with families with young impatient kids. My Empire of the Penguin theme park ride experience adds another decent but not spectacular exhibit to a live animal theme park. Sea World brings the icy South Pole to Orlando, Florida but hold off to any immediate visits until the hoards of people trickle down.

Sea World's Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin

Antarctic penguins are a tough sell to the Disney theme park dominated Orlando, Florida. My family enjoys everything that Sea World has to offer with their educational marine life entertainment. A bit of theme park advice here...enjoy the reduced crowds at the other Sea World exhibits in the meantime. No one was at Shark Encounter for the first time!

Sea World's Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins

You can view more Sea World's Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins photos and videos shot with the Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D in my Sea World's Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin Gallery.
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

His First Holy Communion

First Holy Communion formal pictures

My son's first reception of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is cause for celebration and of course, formal pictures. Along with many Catholic 2nd graders with their excited parents, the hunt for proper attire began with frantic visits to the children section at local department stores. After repeated attempts at multiple locations for the correct garment size, the online heavens parted and blessed us with convenient delivery to our home. This is truly a Blessed Sacrament.

First Holy Communion at St. Stephen Catholic Church

Reconciliation finished. Sacrament of the Altar completed. This communicant is well on his way for his rite of passage until his future confirmation. Assigned seating in the third row gave me an opportune view for this unobstructed perfect shot at ISO 3200 with my trusty Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D. Divine Intervention strikes again!

First Holy Communion Reception with Lechon Roast Pig

If you look closely at paintings of the Last Supper in Filipino households, you can see a succulent whole roasted Lechon pig with crispy skin on the table with Jesus and his Apostles. The Lord's Supper and my son's First Communion Reception are not complete without the national dish of suckling swine of the Philippines and Puerto Rico.

First Holy Communion at St. Stephen Catholic Church

Unlike this one, many rites of passage are not a true and straight path. There will be many obstacles sight unseen in your future. Doubt will be cast and certainly authority questioned until you are well past an adult. It will all make sense later.

First Holy Communion at St. Stephen Catholic Church

Your journey will not be alone. This much photographed family will guide you like your gracious unleavened host on this perfect happy day. Like all similes, please don't eat us.

Chad Soriano at his First Holy Communion

No fancy studio lights and digital cameras here in my First Holy Communion photo shoot, just a Polaroid Instamatic Land Camera with harsh flash bulb lighting. Check out my over sized lapels on my brown leisure suit ! I was "Stylin" in my day !

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Canon EOS Rebel SL1 Video Test

Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D DSLR

The new Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D digital camera takes all the "Rebel" goodness and wraps it in a small package. This new entry level 18 megapixel Canon Rebel with an APS-C CMOS sensor is now the lightest and smallest DSLR in the digital market today. This small form factor certainly blurs the line with their existing and not so popular Canon EOS M digital mirrorless compact camera just released in November 2012. The Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D emerges as the Canon EOS M mirrorless digital camera with a real viewfinder and no silly EF-M Lens Adapter, IMHO.





Does the new Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D video performance stack up with its Rebel brothers? Yes, it certainly does except for the fact it is missing an articulating screen and a larger capacity battery. Just like the Canon EOS M mirrorless digital camera, the new Canon EOS Rebel SL1 is missing the swivel screen and utilizes the same Canon LP-E12 battery pack. The new Canon Rebel SL1/100D also retains the quite useful touchscreen feature of the 3.0 inch LCD screen, the extended video record time of 29 minutes and 29 seconds and the full manual exposure and audio control with an external microphone jack. Enough said! Watch the Youtube video above to see for yourself!

Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D with the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens and the Canon EOS M mirrorless digital camera with the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens.

Surprisingly, Canon has managed to fit an optical viewfinder and a built in pop up flash in the Rebel SL1/100D with a form factor similar to the Canon EOS M mirrorless digital camera. The familiar Rebel controls like Mode Dial, AE lock and even the ISO button are all in the usual locations on this small Rebel body. Full size features like a 4 fps shutter rate powered by a DIGIC V processor and video resolutions like 1080p at 30fps and 720p at 60 fps fill this "baby" Rebel with adorable goodness!

Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D with Rode VideoMic with Rycote Suspension System, a Hoodman Custom Finder Kit with H32 viewfinder loupe and a Manfrotto MVH500AH fluid video head.

My Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D rig consisted of the new Manfrotto MVH500AH fluid video head for support, the Rode VideoMic shotgun microphone with the Rycote Lyre Suspension System for audio capture and the new Hoodman Custom Finder Kit with the H32 viewfinder loupe to help in critical focus. As for lenses used in my Youtube video, I used the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L prime and the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS macro lenses. As expected, the Rode VideoMic with the more durable Rycote shock mount is a dream and can now actually fit comfortably in my camera bag. The new Manfrotto MVH500AH fluid head is larger than my Manfrotto 701 HDV head but this new head has tilting spring tension with a new quick release plate. The Hoodman Custom Finder Kit with H32 loupe is still under my pending evaluation for now. Stay tuned for more...

Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D Hybrid AF II

The Hybrid CMOS AF II makes an infamous comeback but in an allegedly improved 2nd version! Canon's attempt at continuous AF during video recording was a blatant disappointment. Just like the Canon EOS Rebel T4i and the Canon EOS M Hybrid AF systems, I did not expect much with the new and improved 2nd version of the Hybrid AF Servo function. Again with the new Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D, the continuous AF during video recording hunted back and forth like usual and completely missed the boat, IMHO! Manual focus during video is the way to go for great video!

Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D with Rode VideoMic with Rycote Suspension System, a Hoodman Custom Finder Kit with H32 viewfinder loupe and a Manfrotto MVH500AH fluid video head.

So what is my Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D Video Test Verdict? The Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D emerges as another stellar video performer just like its bigger Rebel brothers but just in a small form factor with no articulating screen. If travel size and weight are your criteria for minimalist filmmaking, the new Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D is your DSLR Phoenix rising from the digital ashes!

Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D with Transcend 32gb SDHC UHS-I memory card and Canon LP-E12 battery compartment.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Firmware 1.2.1 Update Released for Download

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Firmware 1.2.1 Available for Download
Canon EOS 5D Mark III Firmware 1.2.1 Available for Download Here

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III Firmware 1.2.1 has arrived with open arms from filmmakers and video journalists. The much anticipated video fix to Canon's HD DSLR workhorse finally allows a clean HDMI output signal to an external recorder. A "clean" signal means an uncompressed 4:2:2 8 bit raw video output over HDMI to current external recorders such as the Atomos Ninja 2 and the less expensive Blackmagic Design Shuttle 2. In much simpler video terms, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III with an external recorder listed above can capture a longer continuous record times with a much higher quality video signal that can be easily manipulated and edited in post production. The Canon EOS 5D Mark III with the new 1.2.1 firmware update bridges the gaps of HD DSLR cinema.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III clean HDMI output signal

The new "mirroring" feature of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III allows clean uninterrupted external video monitoring over HDMI while a "mirrored" camera LCD display with all the video information clutter is shown simultaneously during video capture. This is a must for external monitoring for cinematographers to help in critical focusing and clients overlooking your film work. So in a nutshell, you can view a clean signal on an external monitor, record a clean HDMI signal devoid of compression artifacts to an external recorder and at the same time record internally to CF and SD cards the standard compressed .mov codec. A DSLR filmmaker's dream come true...

Canon EOS 1DX at NAB 2012

Even Canon's DSLR flagship, the 1DX, at this time does not have this must have feature of a clean HDMI video output signal of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. For the price of one Canon EOS 1DX, you can buy a pair of better video enabled Canon EOS 5D Mark III's. What a bargain! Enough of the bragging, let us move on to even more features of the 1.2.1 Firmware...

Cross-type AF at f/8 for Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Wildlife photographers rejoice! The new Canon EOS 5D Mark III firmware 1.2.1 includes cross-type AF points at f/8. This is a more sensitive group of AF points for apertures required for super zoom and telephoto lenses with a Canon EF lens extender just like the more expensive Canon EOS 1DX.



At this time, I do not own an external recorder with my Canon EOS 5D Mark III to give my followers a real world uncompressed raw video test of this new 1.2.1 firmware. I do have my Canon EOS 5D Mark III Video Test from last year that shows the beauty of full frame video quality with great glass. My Canon EOS 5D Mark III Video Test is a 1080p video shot at 29.97fps and the much compressed IPB internal .mov codec. In post production, I transcoded the .mov files to AppleProRes422 using Apple Compressor and edited the video files in Final Cut Pro 6.0.6. I exported my AppleProRes422 edited timeline back to Apple Compressor and submitted a Apple H264 video file for my upload to Youtube.

Philip Bloom and Chad Soriano at NAB 2012

Fellow filmmaker and HD DSLR guru, Philip Bloom, should have an in depth review of the new Canon EOS 5D Mark III Firmware 1.2.1 including a clean HDMI output video signal to external recorder video test, shortly. If you need an in depth forum discussion of this new 1.2.1 firmware, you can join Chris Hurd at DVinfo.net. You can also read my Canon EOS 5D Mark III Practical Review and Video Test of this amazing HD DSLR with a full photo and video gallery here.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Firmware 1.2.1 Update

Canon made a great DSLR even better with the addition of the new Canon EOS 5D Mark III Firmware 1.2.1 update. Canon has finally caught up with the likes of Nikon HD DSLR's as for full featured video capabilities.
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Thursday, March 21, 2013

New Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D Announced



Big things do come in small packages, especially when it comes to Canon's smallest and lightest creation, the Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D DSLR. Boasting an impressive 14.36 ounces for body only with a size smaller than the current Canon Rebel T4i/650D, the new Canon Rebel SL1/100d still packs a mighty punch like the Canon EOS M digital mirrorless camera.



The new Rebel SL1/100d touts an 18 megapixel CMOS APS-C sensor with DIGIC V processor. 9 AF points fill the frames along with 4 frames per second shutter rate. A new version of the AF Servo called Hybrid AF II allegedly has better AF Servo during video recording. I will keep my fingers crossed for that past disappointing AF feature in the previous Canon Rebel T4i/650D.



For an upcoming retail price of $649 body only and $799 with the new STM enabled kit lens in April 2013, the new Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D will be a great value just like the previous Canon EOS Rebel T3i/600D. The new Rebel SL1/100D has an impressive 1080p capable video function with an external microphone input for audio as well. Of course, video and audio have full manual control for ultimate creativity. Just like the previous Canon Rebel T4i/650D and the Canon EOS M, the new Canon Rebel SL1/100D keeps the touch screen user interface but only with a fixed 3.0 inch LCD screen. Beggars cannot be choosers!



I almost forgot! It has only been 10 months since the previous Canon Rebel T4i/650D was released, but there is an almost identical and new Canon EOS Rebel T5i/700D coming soon to replace it. What's the point? There is really nothing new besides a "real time" Live View of Creative Filter Effects and other minor things not worth mentioning. Just keep your current full size Canon Rebel and save up for the smallest and lightest DSLR from Canon next month.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Canon EOS 6D Verdict and Video Review



Just like the BMW 3 series, Canon introduces entry level full frame luxury with the 20 megapixel Canon EOS 6D with a street price under $2000. In the EOS full frame lineup, the Canon EOS 6D is the smallest and least expensive compared to the venerable Canon 5D Mark III and the ultimate Canon flagship, the 1DX.



To the majority of DSLR owners, the lesser expensive APS-C cropped sensor sits comfortably in their camera bag. Why full frame then? Full frame means a true focal length equivalent of your lenses. A wide angle 14mm lens with a full frame sensor will give that extra wide reach for landscapes and architecture. The larger surface area of a full frame sensor produces a dreamier background bokeh with your glass compared to cropped sensors. A must for portrait photographers.



Enough of the "why?" and now more to the "what?"...The Canon EOS 6D touts a 20 megapixel CMOS sensor with a DIGIC 5+ processor to keep up with the 4.5fps shutter rate. The smaller form factor of the Canon 6D is just about the body equivalent of the Canon 60D. Also like the 60D, the Canon 6D has only a single Secure Digital memory card slot. Similar to the rest of Canon full frames, no built in flash. The Canon 6D has a 97% viewfinder coverage with interchangeable screens to satisfy most demanding photographers.



The Canon EOS 6D is the first Canon DSLR with built in Wi-Fi connectivity to mobile devices and GPS capability. With the free Canon EOS Remote App for both Apple and Android operating systems, you can remotely control, capture and view images on your Apple iPad or even a Samsung Galaxy Tablet. For social media fanatics out there, you can photograph in full frame glory and wirelessly transfer your images directly to your Apple iPhone's Camera Roll. Fuzzy cellphone Facebook pictures are now things of the past...



A true test for ISO capability is a tungsten lit portrait at ISO 3200. In the usual Canon fashion, ISO 3200 is nice and clean with wonderful skin tone and detail. The Canon EOS 6D boasts an expandable ISO range of 100 to 102800. Enough range for even the faint of heart...



He shoots, he scores! The Canon EOS 6D has 11 AF points to satisfy most soccer moms and dads. The 11 AF points does not compare to the flagship Canon 1D series, but the sports photography performance of the Canon 6D is decent in my opinion. With my Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 IS lens set at wide open, I was able to track my son with any of the 11 AF points in the viewfinder with no problem.



Now for the video nitty gritty. A dedicated selectable video/still record button gets you up and running for multiple resolution HD video with your choice of ALL-I or IPB compression. The Canon 6D touts the extended record time up to 29 minutes and 29 seconds with built in Time Code. Only one SDHC memory card slot for all those disappointed redundancy fans. Low light video capability? ISO 3200 is nice and clean. The Canon EOS 6D HDMI output is a selectable info overlay cropped 1080i signal that does not black out when you press the record button. An audio input allows external stereo microphones for dual channels of manually adjustable audio but of course no headphone jack to monitor audio like the Canon 5D Mark III. Ugh!



How about aliasing and moire? I pointed the Canon EOS 6D in the direction of busy textured surfaces such as brick walls, patio screens and landscape foliage with no success. Despite all the online reviewers out there, in my honest opinion I found no horrible or distracting aliasing and moire with my practical hands on review. Other than the usual CMOS jello shutter and vertical smearing of fast moving objects, the Canon EOS 6D is a quality FULL HD DSLR.



My Canon EOS 6D video review opinion? The Canon EOS 6D has outstanding full frame video quality but of course no headphone jack for true video fans like the more expensive Canon EOS 5D Mark III. Entry level is entry level, full frame or not...Is almost $1000 a worthy upgrade to the Canon 5D Mark III for audio monitoring ? IMHO, YES!!! For aspiring filmmakers upgrading from a Canon EOS Rebel T4i/650D to glorious full frame affordability of the Canon EOS 6D? Of course, an astounding YES !!!.



My Canon EOS 6D verdict? The Canon EOS 6D is a full frame still image powerhouse that caters to old school 35mm photographers. Now considered "Dinosaurs" of our time, still photographers cherish a picture worth a thousand words. Despite all the fancy gadgetry and Full HD video, the Canon EOS 6D shines as a phenomenal still image maker with outstanding resolution and low light capability. The extras are for the other 99%.



You can view more pictures and videos in my Canon EOS 6D Verdict and Video Review Gallery shot with the Canon EOS 6D paired with the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L, EF 24-105mm f/4L IS and the 70-200mm f/4L IS lenses.



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