Category Archives: Digital Camera

Canon EOS 50D to Canon EOS 5D Mark III

I outgrew the Canon EOS 50D. I needed a more advance camera to continue to learn and make shooting a little easier. Enter the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. I bought the kit which comes with the Canon 24-105mm f4L IS. This is a beast of a camera. Now I can record video on the camera with a push of a button. The 50D doesn’t record video. More importantly, the autofocus on this camera is simply amazing. I went from 9 AF points to 63.

It took me some time to get used to all the advance settings and using the camera. It’s very different from my old 50D. However, it’s just so much more advance in every aspect.

When I was research a new camera, I was seriously considering the Canon 7D as well. I went with the 5D Mark III because of the full frame sensor. It’s better at taking pictures in low light than a crop sensor. If I had a bunch of EF-S lenses, I probably would have gone with the 7D or wait for the rumored 7D Mark II. Most of my lenses were EF, so I was good to go.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my purchase. It’s not a cheap camera by any means, but you do get a lot of performance in a well rounded package. No, there’s no pop-up flash, but you can always edit the photos in post production to make up for it.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Unboxing Photo

Canon 24-70mm L f2.8 mk1 lens

This lens is legendary. All the pros and semi-pro photographer have one. This is a big and heavy lens to use and carry around. It’s also one of the best lens to use because of the 2.8 aperture. The bokeh is buttery smooth. I still have a love hate relationship with this lens.

First of all, this is an awkward lens. There are a lot of bad copies out there. The problem was that it either back focused or produced really soft images. The lens also reverse zooms. The lens extends at wider angles. When I use autofocus on a 50D and a 5D mark 3, it’s hit or miss. Sometimes I would get good sharp images. Other times, it’s a blurry mess. I would say it’s 50/50. Manual focus is a different story. This lens need to be manual focused.

Unfortunately, the original version of this lens has been discontinued by Canon. There is a newer version out that corrects a lot of the flaws. It’s also slightly lighter and smaller. Only slightly though. The big barrier to the average consumer is that this lens costs $2300. For that kind of change, I would rather get the 70-200mm f2.8 II.

What’s new and the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS

The next phase. While attempting to write and review stuff, life has a nasty habit of getting in the way. It’s not easy to blog and keep a 9 to 5. Well, it’s actually more like a 7 to 6. So, I’m changing life a little bit to allow more time to focus on the fun part of life and less on the 9 to 5. It’s going to be a busy 3 weeks. However, there is a long list of new products that I will be getting to review and use.

For now, I’ve been using the 70-300mm f4-5.6L IS more lately. Many people are questioning this lens and whether it’s a good buy. It is. First of all, it’s very compact. I travel a lot, so packing light is essential. Second, it’s doesn’t include a tripod collar. Yes, that’s true. FYI, it’s doesn’t need one. It’s light enough to hand hold and has IS to take care of any jitters. Third, it’s sharp, really sharp. And finally, 300mm on a 1.6 crop sensor means I’m getting 480mm of focal length.

More to come.

Chief Monkey

A change of plans and more DSLR news

I need to make it a habit to write regularly.  I’ve been a little anti-sharing lately.  I’ve been focusing more on the camera than the tech equipment.  So the direction of Popmonkeys.com will shift towards camera and camera gear.  Of course, I’ll write about tech from time to time.

So, what have I been up to?  Well, my trusty Canon EOS 50D is finally getting some serious upgrades.  I made the switch to L lenses for most of my pictures.  I picked up the Canon 70-300 mm f4-5.6L IS in January.  I also added the Canon 24-70 mm f2.8L.  I considered long and hard between the 24-70mm f2.8L and the 24-105mm f4L IS.  The 24-105mm f4L does offer a more usable focal length.  However, I mostly shoot handheld in low light.  So the f2.8 was the winner.  Both lenses are spectacular.  If you don’t need the f2.8, go with the 24-105 because it’s $300 cheaper, has IS, and gives you 30mm more to play with.

The 50D crop 1.6x sensor is the perfect match the for the 70-300mm telephoto zoom.  This combination yields an impressive 480mm zoom.  I am thinking about upgrading the camera body to something with more features.  I’ll be taking a long hard look at the upcoming 5D Mark III.

It’s been a while

It’s been such a long time since I posted anything, and there is so much to talk about.  Lately, the computers are staying the same, but the camera is getting some much needed upgrade.

Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 L IS USM

Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 L IS USM

My latest purchase is the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM.  I travel with my camera a lot.  I care about image quality but wanted something compact.  The new L-series 70-300mm was perfect.  The AF is very quick and locks the instant you press down on the shutter button.  As with any L lens, the build quality is just solid.

I’ll post some sample pics and a full review later.

Travel Gear – Lowepro Versapack 200AW

Lowepro Versapack 200AW

On my recent three week trip, I chose the Lowepro Versapack 200AW because it combines a camera bag and a backpack.  Like it’s name, it’s pretty versatile.  The backpack is split into two sections.  The bottom section is a dedicated for your DSLR.  There was plenty of space for my Canon EOS 50D with the 28-135mm lens.  However, if you have a lens that’s a bit larger, say the Canon 70-200mm, it’s going to be a tight fit.  You can access your camera from the side, which is very handy to swing the pack around and pull out your camera.  There is enough room to store a point and shoot camera and a small lens on the other side.

The top section of the pack offers a nice space to carry random things while you’re out and about.  I mostly carried sunscreen, a bottle of water, my iPod, and my BlackRapid strap.  The pack is designed not to be protruding like most camera backpacks.  it’s pretty slim and curved to contour your back.  There’s even a nice deep security pocket to store travel documents.

The negatives.

I wished the backpack came with side pockets to store water bottles on the outside.  Sure, you can buy add Lowepro’s SlipLock accessories, but that cost extra.  The top section has to be zipped up all the time or else the contents will spill out.  The shape of the opening of the top section also makes it a little difficult to zip up.

Overall, I would recommend this product because it’s the combination of both worlds.  You can pick this up at Amazon for about $100.  Click here to view the product page.

Things I learned about owning a DSLR

Going from point and shoot to DSLR is a big step up.  The learning curve is very steep, and you have to make many investments in order to have the full experence.  You have to investment a significant amount of money on the equipment and the time to learn everything.

If you’re the type that just wants to take a picture, stick with a good point and shoot.  They have come a long way and are very advanced in a compact package.  Some high end point and shoot camera now offer RAW images.  RAW images are just that, raw.  Cameras normally compress the pictures and manually adjust the photos before saving to a jpeg.  RAW images allow you to adjust the image yourself.

canon-powershot-g10

I recommend getting the Canon Powershot G10, not the new G11, or the upcoming Canon Powershot S90.  I’m glad to see that Canon brought back the Powershot S series.  These are very good cameras with more manual controls than the SD series.  For more information about the Canon Powershot S90, dpreview.com has a good initial hands on review.   The Canon Powershot S90 is available soon.  Expect a price tag above $400.

canon-powershot-s90

However, not all point and shoots are equal.  Sure, there are cameras out there that only cost $100.  But the picture quality pays for the low price.

If you’re the type of person that likes taking pictures, a DSLR is worth the investment.  The picture quality alone is leaps and bounds above a good point and shoot.  I am a little bias towards Canon.  However, the Nikon D90 is a damn good camera as well.  So it’s up to you to determine what type you are.  There’s a camera for every type.  Just go out and have fun.

DSLR – Canon EOS 50D Unboxing

I decided on the Canon EOS 50D because it felt good in my hand.  The Canon Rebel T1i and the Nikon D90 felt was too cramp.  The 50D also had a good heft to it.  I have a lot to learn about using the DSLR to its full potential.  Without further hesitation, here are the unboxing pictures.

Canon EOS 50D Box

Canon EOS 50D Box

Canon EOS 50D Open Box

Canon EOS 50D Open Box

Canon EOS 50D Manuals and Software

Canon EOS 50D Manuals and Software

Canon EOS 50D and Accessories

Canon EOS 50D and Accessories

Canon EOS 50D Top View

Canon EOS 50D Top View

Canon EOS 50D Front View

Canon EOS 50D Front View

Canon EOS 50D Side View

Canon EOS 50D Side View

For some reason, Amazon.com is having trouble keeping this camera in stock.  The last time I checked, they had 2 left.  Not sure what’s going on there.  If you’re interesting, here is the product page for the Canon 50D.

DSLR Battle – Canon T1i vs. Canon 50D vs. Nikon D90

I’ve been bitten by the shutter bug.  Recently, I decided to move into the DSLR world.  The Canon SD880IS is perfectly fine and still travels with me everyday.  However, for the special pictures, I need a camera that can capture stunning pictures and night time shot.

In researching my purchase, I evaluated 3 models:  Canon Rebel T1i, Nikon D90, and Canon 50D.  All are very good choices for any shutter bug.  They offer great image quality, manual controls, a good image sensor, and a nice LCD with Live View.  I have to note that the Nikon has 12.3 megapixels vs. both Canons with 15.1 megapixels.

Canon EOS Rebel T1i

The Canon Rebel T1i and Canon 50D are very similar in specs.  They both share the same image sensor and the new Digic 4 processor.  However, the T1i lacked the build quality I was looking for.  It also felt too small in my hands.  If you have a tighter budget, the T1i is a fantastic option.

So I narrowed down my choices to the Nikon D90 and the Canon 50D.  The Nikon D90 is getting rave reviews for being quick, intuitive, and an all around great camera that performace like you would expect.

Canon EOS 50D

The Canon 50D is the updated version of the highly recommended Canon 40D.  The 50D is a very fast camera with continuous shooting at 6.3 frames per second compared to the Nikon D90’s 4.5 frames per second.  The body of the Canon 50D is constructed from magnesium alloy with improved weather sealing than the Canon 40D.

nikon-d901

The Nikon D90 has the ability to record HD video.  The Canon 50D cannot.  The Nikon offers many features that are not present on the 50D.  In my opinion, it’s a matter of preference between Canon or Nikon.  However, when you choose a brand, you should stick with it.  Most of the time, the accessories you acquire for your current DSLR, such as lenses and filters, can be transferred to a new model of the same brand.

Price for all three will vary depending on which retailer you go to.  Amazon.com came through for me with this purchase.  You’ll find out what I decided on with the unboxing pics.

Canon T1i – $821 with Free Shipping (comes with an EF-s 18-55mm IS kit lens)
Nikon D90 – $1,140 with Free Shipping (comes with a 18-105mm Kit lens)
Canon 50D – $1,280 with Free Shipping (comes with an EF-S 28-135mm IS Kit lens)

The Canon SD880IS – Long Shutter

The long shutter is used for long exposure shots.  This is mostly used for dimly lit environments, such as night photography, or shoot pics that depict motion.  For example, you can capture light trails from a car driving my the camera the shutter is open.  My recommendation is to use a tripod or set the camera on something stationary.  With every jitter or shake of your hands, the picture will be blurry.

So here’s how you get to the long shutter setting.

1.  Start getting to the Program Mode.  If you’re in Auto(A), use the scroll wheel to get to Program(P) mode.

Canon SD880IS

2.  Press the Func/Set button.

canon-sd880is-funcset-button

3.  Press the DISP button.

canon-sd880is-disp-button

You should now have the option to set the exposure duration.  It ranges from 1 – 15 seconds.

Here’s a sample of capturing light trails.

canon-sd880is-light-trails

Asus Eee PC User Experience Survey

Back in November 2008, Asus had a User Experience Survey about the Eee PC.  By participating in the survey, you were automatically entered to win an Asus Eee PC 1002HA or 1 of 30 Asus Mouse.  Well this Chief Monkey won the grand prize.

Asus contacted me in late April, and I finally got my new Eee PC today.  I think the unit was a review unit.  Just unpacking it felt as it was already unpacked before.  The foreign plug was a dead giveaway.  But whatever, it’s not like I paid for it.

Asus Eee PC 1002HA
Asus Eee PC 1002HA
Asus Eee PC 1002HA
Asus Eee PC 1002HA
Asus Eee PC 1002HA

Deal: Canon SD1100 IS for $140.95

Looking for a quality point and shoot for cheap?  The Canon SD1100 IS is a great little 8 megapixel digital camera.  It little size and lightweight which is perfect for traveler.  Or if you are looking for an inexpensive digital camera that takes quality photos, you won’t be disappointed with the Canon SD1100 IS.  I highly recommend this unit.

Canon Powershot SD1100IS

Specs:

8.0 Megapixel
3x optical zoom
Canon’s Face Detection Technology
2.5 inch LCD
Digic 3 image processor
ISO 1600

Abe’s of Maine has this digital camera for a good price.

$150.95 – $10 Coupon Code LOYALTY10 = $140.95

Click here to go to the product page

Canon FS100 Flash Memory Camcorder

I wrote a few posts ago about using my Canon SD880IS digital camera as a camcorder.  Yes, for those quick moments, I would use the video recorder function.  But for those moments that you want to save and share, I would definitely get a camcorder.  But there are so many.  DVD, miniDV, Hard drive, flash memory.  Which one do you choose?  It’s all about how much you want to spend and what kind of features are you looking for?

Canon FS100 Flash Memory Camcorder

I highly recommend the Canon FS100 Flash Memory Camcorder if you’re looking for a basic camcorder that is portable and reliable.

Pros:

  • Small, lightweight, perfect for one handed operation
  • Uses Flash Memory as the recording medium, cheap and available
  • Image Stablization
  • 2.7 Inch LCD

Cons:

  • May lack some advance features
  • Battery life

I’ll speak to image quality when I get the actual camcorder.  It comes in a few colors, silver, purple (wine red), and blue.

The best deal I could find was from Abes of Maine.  For a limited time, they have a $10 off any $75 purchase coupon code:  LOYALTY10

$285.95 – $10 = $275.95 (Sales Tax only in NJ) + Free Shipping.  Click here to go to the product page.

Canon Powershot G10

I’ve written a lot about the Canon Powershot SD880IS lately.  It’s a great point and shoot with many advanced features found only on high end cameras.  However, what if you wanted a more advanced point and shoot?  My only complaint about the SD880IS is that I want to shoot in RAW mode.  RAW images as defined by wikipedia, is images saved directly from the image sensor of a camera without any compression.  Most people would recommend getting a Digital SLR.  But I don’t want to buy all the expensive lenses and fancy equipment.  Enter the Canon Powershot G10.  It’s a hybrid between a point & shoot and a Digital SLR.

Canon Powershot G10
Canon Powershot G10 Back

Here are some basic stats:

14.7-megapixel resolution
5x optical zoom with Optical Image Stabilizer; 28mm wide-angle lens
DIGIC 4 Image Processor
Face Detection
full range of shooting and recording modes
RAW Mode Shooting
3.0-inch PureColor LCD II
SD/SDHC memory card

You can’t go wrong with a Canon Powershot.  If you’re craving more advanced manual functions out of a camera but without the expense of a DSLR, the Canon G10 may be right for you.

The Canon Powershot G10 is available at Amazon.com for $409 with Free Shipping.  Click Here For Product Page

Canon SD880IS – Video Settings

Sometimes I take my gadgets for granted.  My digital camera, the Canon SD880IS, has been the new toy in my life, and I’ve been going snap happy.  However, I never checked out the video recording capabilities of the SD880.  It only records video in .mov files.  The output file at 640×480 resolution is about 1.2 MB per second.  You better get a 16GB SDHC card if you want record a lot of video. It’s only $30 at Amazon, Click Here.  That’s not a bad price for 16GB.

Transcend 16GB SDHC Class 6

The video quality is better than the Flip Video cameras.  Images are sharp and sound quality isn’t that bad.  What do you expect?  You’re capture at a higher resolution with a better lens.  I wouldn’t replace my HD camcorder for those precious moments.  But it’s great for the YouTube worthy content we all know and love.  Anyways, let’s talk about the different recording modes and settings you can do while recording video with the Canon SD880IS.

There’s the Macro Mode for those close up videos.

Canon SD880IS Video Macro Mode

Then there are the more advance shooting modes where you can play around with the colors.

canon sd880is video color accent mode
canon sd880is video color swap mode

Then there’s settings.  You can set your own white balance or select from a few preset options.  You can also pick your video resolution.  Your options are only 640×480 or 320×240, both recording at 30 frames per second.

Canon SD880IS Video White Balance
Canon SD880IS Video 640x480
Canon SD880IS Video 320x240

Of course, if you want to purchase this awesome camera or check out more details, I’ll direct you to where I got mine.  Click here to go to the Amazon Product Page. It’s only $247 + Free Shipping.

Canon SD880IS – Manual Settings

So after owning the Canon SD880IS for a while, I felt a deep review of some advance features is in order.  First of all, this is a great 10 megapixel point and shoot.  It’s versitile enough to tackle most situation with outstanding picture quality.

In Scene mode (SCN), you have a few more options than in Auto mode.  First of all, this is where the ISO 3200 lives.  It took me a while to find it.  In Scene mode, you have 16 different options to choose from depending on your shooting conditions.  There’s even a Color Accent mode that takes the picture in black and white except for one color.  You can access SCN mode by toggling the switch at the top to the middle position.

Canon SD880IS Toggle Switch

Canon SD880IS Toggle Switch

Canon SD880IS ISO3200

Canon SD880IS ISO3200

Canon SD880IS Color Accent

Canon SD880IS Color Accent

The SD880IS does have some manual controls.  Keep in mind that this digital camera is considered a point and shoot.  There is a “P” mode on the SD880 IS, which stands for Program AE.  It is highly recommended that you read the manual before messing with this function.  Okay, now that the disclaimer is out of the way.  To get to Program AE mode, switch to camera mode, toggle all the way to the right on the top of the camera.  It’s noted with a camera symbol.  Then toggle the scroll wheel to choose between “Auto” and “P”.

Canon SD880IS Program AE Mode

Canon SD880IS Program AE Mode

So what can you manually set?  You can set the exposure compensation, white balance, tone, and ISO.  Yes, sounds pretty basic for a the professional photographer right?  Keep in mind that this is a 6.3 ounce ultra compact point and shoot.

Canon SD880IS Program AE Settings

Canon SD880IS Program AE Settings

I’m still having fun with this camera.

The Canon SD880IS is available at Amazon.com for as low as $247 with Free Shipping.  Click here for more details.

Canon Rebel XSI Digital SLR 12.2MP

I’ve been covering a couple of popular Canon point and shoot cameras lately.  But what if you’re looking for something better.  Perhaps a Digital SLR (DSLR)?  Canon’s got you covered in that department too.  DSLR can cost over $5,000 for some professional models.  That’s way too much to spend on a gadget.  How about $700?  That’s a little more affordable for much more functionality and much more camera.  Enter the Canon Rebel XSI DSLR.

Canon Rebel XSI

Here are the spec:

  • 12.2 Megapixel
  • 3.0 LCD with Live View (Think Point and Shoot)
  • EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens with Image Stabilization
  • DIGIC III processor
  • SD/SDHC Memory Cards
Canon Rebel XSI

Since DSLR write so much data in such a short time, a fast memory card can help reduce the lag time between shots.  You certainly don’t want to spend all this money on such a good camera and have it take bad photos.

The Canon Rebel XSI wanders away from the traditional compact flash and adopts SD/SDHC memory cards.  This is certainly a welcomed change due to the popularity and variety of SD/SDHC memory cards.  But when you aska professional photographer, most will recommend the Sandisk Extreme III 8GB SDHC.

SanDisk Extreme III 8GB SDHC

The bottom line…How much will all this cost me?

I’m picking Amazon.com for this purchase because they are reliable and shipping is free and fast.

Canon Rebel XSI DSLR -$635 + Free Shipping – Click Here

SanDisk Extreme III 8GB SDHC – $80 + Free Shipping – Click Here

Canon SD880IS vs Canon SD790IS

I love it when I get questions.  So here’s one from Micasa who comment on this post, Unboxing:  Canon SD880IS:

Hi, i’m interested in this model. How much you paid for it? What the different between this model and SD 790IS?

In a nutshell, the SD880 has a better zoom (4X), utilizes the latest image processor (Digic 4), and the size.  The SD790 is a bit slimmer.  In my opinion, it’s a little difficult to hold the SD790 while taking a picture.  The buttons are flat and are a little hard to use.  Both cameras have wheels that rotate, so that is a flaw there.  It’s more likely to wear out and break.  However, the wheel on the SD790 is larger and has a dual function as the directional or navigational button.  If that breaks… 🙁 .  The wheel is the dark wheel around the function button below.

Canon SD790IS

On the Canon SD880IS, only the ring around the navigational button rotates.

canon sd880is

As for the price, they fluctuate all the time.  I saw the SD880 earlier this week for $209 at Dell.com, with coupons of course.  This deal expired fast.  The Canon SD790IS is currently available for $190 with a free 4GB Kingston SDHC Card at amazon.com, product page here.  The Canon SD880IS is $260 with a free 4GB Kingston SDHC Card, product page here.

I bought my Canon SD880IS for $220 at amazon on a pricing mistake.  Thanks Slickdeals.  If you can wait until Christmas, I would get the SD880IS.  Black Friday is around the corner.

Both cameras are extremely good.  The digital ELPH line from Canon take awesome pictures.  The SD880 provides a little more manual controls for a point and shoot.  It takes fantastic pictures in my opinion.  Either way, you’ll be happy.

I hope this helps Micasa.

New Digital Camera Update

I posted about getting an Canon SD790IS a few days ago.  Well, deals come and go but I couldn’t resist jumping on this one.

For a limited time, you can get the New Canon SD880IS Digital Camera for $229.99 with a free Kingston 4GB SDHC Memory Card.  This camera retails for $300.  It’s rare to find new Canon Cameras on sale when they first come out, but you also get a free 4GB Kingston card.  I got this price at 7 PM PST on October 8, 2008.

UPDATE 8:00 PM PST – The deal is dead.  The price is now $285.

Here’s how you get the deal:

Click Here to go to the Amazon product page.

There should be a link to the Kingston card.  If not, click here.  The price of the Kingston card should be automatically removed at checkout.

Review on the camera when it arrives.

Canon SD 880 ISKingston 4GB SDHC