More photos from Paris and the Notre Dame cathedral in Reims

Written by admin on August 23rd, 2017

More images from my brief interlude in Paris and Reims, all taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Micro Four Thirds camera hand held.

Paris

The morning jogger in Paris, makes me exhausted just seeing him work out so early in the morning when I am looking for a coffee to get me started.

Paris

A lone guitarist on the Seine.

Paris

One of my favourite images – Gucci man – a candid portrait.

Reims

Greg Tricker’s Lumiere Divine – Joan of Arc in Notre Dame cathedral in Reims.

Reims

Notre Dame cathedral in Reims.

The above image was taken using the Olympus mZD 25mm f/1.2 PRO lens at f/1.2, 1/30th sec, ISO 200.

Reims

The unsettling “Smiling Angel” statue near the front door.

Reims

Notre Dame cathedral in Reims.

Reims was once the capital of France, and the birth place of the Frankish Empire and catholicism in France, having evolved as the main Roman trade city. Most of the French kings were crowned here up until Charles X in 1825.

Sadly it was decimated in the World Wars, and its famous Notre Dame cathedral suffering major damage in each and requiring restoration, and now it’s main claim to fame is  being in the center of the champagne wine district.

It is only around 1 hour train ride from Paris, but unlike Paris, is not over-run by tourists and there are some nice AirBnB options – just don’t expect any Uber rides or eats, and its art gallery is quite small but still worth a visit if you love art.

 

A midnight stroll around Paris

Written by admin on August 20th, 2017

It’s a stiflingly hot summer’s night in Paris – 37deg C during the day and not really dropping much by midnight and with little breeze to cool the apartments – the best place to be is out on the streets having a wander and exploring without the crowds.

Paris

My quaint hotel room decorated by famous designer Christian Lacroix at Hotel Le Bellechasse adjacent to my favourite art gallery, the Musee D’Orsay in Saint Germain. The staff at this hotel were always extremely pleasant and helpful, and the room clean and quiet, and thankfully was fitted with an air conditioner. There was a lift to avoid the common struggles of staircases and luggage, and a nice buffet style breakfast if one wished to partake.

As nice as it was, the streets of Paris at midnight beckons.

And thanks to my Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera, there is no need for carrying cumbersome tripods, just hand held image stabilized night street photography, discrete enough to hide it if danger lurked in the dark recesses along the Seine.

Paris

But in Paris, one is never alone, lonely perhaps, but not alone.

Paris

And though it was dusk, in a city where the threat of terrorism is ever present, being able to capture this lovely fleeting candid street photography style shot of these two ladies oblivious to the world and having a laugh is what brings joy to photography – Paris is not just the old buildings and art galleries – it is the people who remind us that humanity is not all that bad.

Paris

I am guessing you don’t need me to tell you this the the famous Louvre, but here are a couple of images before they turn the lights off at midnight and evacuate the square.

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris

I can’t write a blog post like this and not include the Eiffel Tower at dusk – oh yes, the sun sets late in Paris, and dusk is around 11pm!

Paris

Or, for that matter, romance along the Seine – they are just too iconic to ignore even for me!

 

Can you really protect your images posted online – AI and automated watermark removal

Written by admin on August 19th, 2017

I have always made the assumption that if you post an image online, no matter what website, there will be ways that people can download it and then re-use it.

Some sites such as Facebook and Tumblr make it extremely easy for users to download posted images in whatever resolution they were uploaded albeit with some probably loss of quality due to the web site’s image “viewing optimisation” process.

Some websites like IG, Flickr, 500px, etc do an OK job at making it hard for users to download images, but if one really wanted to, they could use a screen capture tool, or with a tiny amount of programming knowledge gain access to the higher resolution image files through manipulation of URLs (yes apologies, I briefly did test this just to see if it can be done before I wrote this post) – although it seems most websites are now making this harder to achieve. If you are not a programmer, a search of the web can usually find third party tools to download Instagram, etc – although I am not sure why anyone would bother downloading the poorly compressed, low res IG imagery – but its not that hard to do. This does NOT mean that I condone abusing an online image site’s terms of use, I am just pointing out that it can be done and so you should assume someone will do it.

Many online image hosting websites like 500px.com also offer to automatically apply an ugly watermark to your images (or you can do this yourself in Adobe Lightroom, etc before uploading them).

Google research has just posted a blog on how AI software can easily and automatically remove most watermarks effectively - see HERE for the post.

It seems that if you want to make it harder for AI to do this, you not only need to introduce randomness to the position of the watermark but a random warping of the watermark.

I guess randomly warped watermarks will come in future versions of Lightroom – but for now it seems that all your efforts with watermarking may be in vain and just makes your photos ugly.

So current state, your watermark will be easily removed thus assume once uploaded, there is a risk others could abuse your image copyright without your permission.

 

Can the Godox AD600B radio remote TTL battery portable flash keep up with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II at 10fps and 15fps? My test results.

Written by admin on August 17th, 2017

As mentioned in an earlier post, the Godox system now allows radio remote TTL flash at up to 100m from the camera when used on most camera systems, including Micro Four Thirds at last!

The Godox AD600B is a Bowens S mount studio flash with attached 500 shot lithium ion battery and ability to use a remote head also with Bowens S mount lighting accessories.

This makes it a great option for location shooting, but how well will its recycle time keep up with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II rapid fire burst modes of 10fps and 15fps mechanical shutter (NB. unfortunately you can’t use the flash in electronic shutter mode rapid burst modes as sync speed is far too slow).

The short answer is extremely well IF you drop the flash output level to around 1/16th or 1/32nd of full output.

When testing I have taken the flash out of TTL mode and used Manual mode so I can see exactly what outputs will keep up.

Let’s first look at 10fps (the usual LOW burst setting on the camera):

At 1/16th output or less there were ZERO dropped frames where flash did not fire.

At higher outputs up to 1/4, there were sequences of mainly 2 (and sometimes 1, 3 or 4) consecutive frames where the flash did not fire:

At 1/16th + 0.3EV, you get 29 frames then drops 2, then 11 frames then drops 1, etc.

At 1/16th + 0.7EV, you get 14 frames then drops 2, then 5 frames then drops 2, then 6 frames then drops 2, etc.

At 1/8th output, you get 9 frames then drops 2, then 4 frames then drops 2, then 3 frames then drops 2, then 4 frames then drops 2, etc.

At 1/4 output, you get 3 frames then drops 2, then 2 frames then drops 4, then 2 frames then drops 3, then 2 frames then drops 3, etc.

At 1/2 output, you get 2 frames before dropping frames

At full output you get 1 frame before dropping frames as it does a full recycle.

Now let’s first look at 15fps (the usual HIGH burst setting on the camera):

At 1/64th +0.7EV output or less there were ZERO dropped frames where flash did not fire.

At higher outputs up to 1/8th output, there were sequences of mainly 5-6 consecutive frames where the flash did not fire:

At 1/32nd output , you get 26 frames then drops 5, then 10 frames then drops 5, etc.

At 1/16th output , you get 10-11 frames then drops 6, then 5 frames then drops 6, etc.

At 1/8th output, you get 5 frames then drops 6

At 1/4 output, you get 3 frames then drops frames

At 1/2 output, you get 2 frames before dropping frames

At full output you get 1 frame before dropping frames as it does a full recycle.

Summary:

If you don’t want any dropped frames for the 1st 25 frames, use 1/16th+0.3EV output or less at 10fps, or 1/32nd output or less at 15fps.

In reality most of use just need the first 9-10 frames or so, and if this is the case then 1/16th at 15fps is fine, as is 1/8th output at 10fps.

The flash sync on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II in TTL mode or manual mode with this outfit is 1/250th sec (it can be pushed a little faster if you use PC sync only connection to the trigger and only use manual mode).

The kit will allow HSS / Super FP mode but this does drop the flash output and significantly affect the recycle times when using TTL FP mode as well as increase the risk of over-temperature protection system kicking in (at 50 full output flashes or 100 1/8th output flashes, or 150 16th output flashes) which forces the unit to recycle at 10 secs instead of a full recycle of 2.5 secs, and you should then cease firing for 10 minutes.

At 1/16th output, the t0.1 flash duration is 1/3448th sec which should be plenty short to stop most action such as a ballet dancer in a studio and at a GN of around 16m at ISO 100, you are still getting a reasonable output, so that when used at ISO 200 which is the base ISO of the Olympus cameras, you need to use f/11 with the flash at around 2m away from subject with just the standard Bowen’s 7″ reflector head in place – enough output to get it back a bit further.

Bouncing off an umbrella or shooting through a double diffused softbox at 1/16th output will give you exposures around ISO 200, f/2.8 at a flash to subject distance of around 3m, but at f/2.8, ISO 200 and 1/250th sec, you do then run into potential issues with a bright outdoor ambient lighting – in this case, use the bright outdoor ambience to backlight your subject.

At 1/32nd output, the t0.1 flash duration is 1/4651th sec which again should be plenty short to stop most action.

Of course, you could go down to 1/128th output on the remote which gives a t0.1 flash duration of only 1/8130th sec, and although the AD-600B itself allows you to manually dial in a 1/256th output setting which gives a t0.1 duration of 1/10,000th sec, this is not currently possible to use with the Godox XT1-O transmitter which will set it back to 1/128th output as lowest output.

If you need more power output at 1/16th output, buy two AD600B units and a 1200Ws bulb and the 1200Ws remote head connected to your two AD600B units.

 

 

A final Parisian art gallery post – can’t end the series without some works from the Louvre

Written by admin on August 6th, 2017

A brief exposé of some of the lesser known works in the Louvre art gallery.

These were all shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera with the Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 pro lens.

A touch of my own styling to some of the beautiful marble sculptures:

Louvre

Pierre Paul Rubens Portrait d’Helene Fourment 1636:

Louvre

Pierre Paul Rubens Clélie passant le Tibre (Cloelia crossing the Tiber) 1635:

Louvre

Antoon van Dyck Les Amours de Renaud et de l’enchanteresse Armide (The loves of Rinaldo and the enchantress Armida) 1641:

Louvre

Jacob Jordaens Le roi boit (The king drinks) 1638-40:

Louvre

My take on the Restoration of Melpomene Muse de la tragedie in marble 1st century AD Rome:

Louvre

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Saint Jean-Baptiste 1513-16 – sometimes reflections are impossible to get rid of, and I didn’t bring a polarising filter to help – my bad:

Louvre

Alessandro Filipepi dit Botticelli Un jeune homme presente par Venus 1483-85:

Louvre

Alessandro Filipepi dit Botticelli Venus et Le Trois Graces offrant des presents a une jeune fille (Venus and The Three Graces) 1483-85:

Louvre

My take on the Winged goddess of Victory of Samothrace 3rd-1st century BC Greece:

Louvre

Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson Pygmalion et Galatee 1824:

Louvre

Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson Atala au tombeau 1808:

Louvre

Louise David Les Sabines 1799:

Louvre

Louise David Les Amours de Paris et d’Helene 1788:

Louvre

Pierre Peyron La mort d’Alceste 1785:

Louvre

Anselm Kiefer Athanor 2007:

Louvre

Perhaps it is that we can’t appreciate life without seeing death, and perhaps we all too often take for granted the wonderful aspects of culture that history has betrothed upon us even though their permanence is not guaranteed in our violent world. Live in the presence and appreciate what we have, protect our past and look to a future enhanced by us being here – not a future of despair and destruction as has been the case so often in our past.

 

Hands on testing of the Godox AD 600B for radio remote TTL mobile studio flash, high sync and pushed sync on Olympus OM-D cameras – even works in conjunction with Cactus V6 II system!

Written by admin on August 6th, 2017

Godox has created a dream come true for many Micro Four Thirds users with Olympus OM-D or Panasonic mirrorless cameras – not only do we now have access to a radio remote TTL flash system but it is easy to use, seems reliable and you can get an amazing very powerful battery operated studio flash with Bowens S mount – the Godox Wistro AD600 / 600B which remotely supports TTL exposures as well as high speed sync (Super FP flash mode in Olympus nomenclature) for flash at all shutter speeds to 1/8000th second (with mechanical shutter).

The instruction manual for the Godox X1TO remote TTL flash trigger can be downloaded here and that for the Godox AD 600B downloaded here.

AD600

 

First the hard bit – upgrading the firmware of the AD600 unit for Olympus TTL capability:

The AD600 does not come with Olympus/Panasonic radio TTL compatibility by default thus you need to upgrade the firmware, nor does it come with a USB cable – but most of us have plenty lying around – you just need to find one that fits the AD 600 USB port.

Next you need to download the Godox firmware updater software from the Godox download web page, as well as the correct firmware for your flash model, noting the G1 install procedure instructions.

You then need to extract the software installation files from  the .rar format for both the updater software and the firmware file – you can use a program such as 7-zip to do this.

Then you run the setup for the updater software installer, however, on the latest versions of Windows 10, BEFORE you can install the USB driver correctly, you may need to Disable Signed Driver Enforcement – see instructions for doing so here. Then you must reboot the computer and then install the software by running setup.exe of the updater software and hopefully all will install properly.

Next you need to TURN OFF the Godox Remote Controller AND DISCHARGE ANY POWER buffered in the AD 600 unit by REMOVING the BATTERY then press OFF/ON Button for 2 seconds BEFORE YOU ATTACH USB cable to computer – otherwise I am guessing you can fry your computer.

If your device driver installed correctly, when you attach the USB cable to the computer, it should be recognised.

Now run the Updater Software and click on the bottom left button to select English.

If you are running a high resolution display, you will not see the bottom buttons which makes life harder – in this case change your display resolution to 1920 x 1080 temporarily so you can use the software better.

Now it becomes obvious that you first press the top left button called Select File and then you need to find the firmware file you downloaded and extracted which has the file extension .fri.

Then you press the top middle button to Connect to the flash unit – if this fails, either your USB cable is not the right one or is faulty, or, you didn’t install the USB drivers due to the issue above.

If the flash is detected then you are ready to upgrade the firmware by pressing the Upgrade button – of course, you do NOT want to disconnect the unit until this is complete!

Configuring the AD600B flash for radio wireless TTL flash:

Connect the lithium ion battery (after you have charged it up which takes 4hrs).

Plug in the globe (many use gloves to avoid skin oils contacting the glass but its not as critical as with halogen globes) – or plug in the optional very useful H600B remote head and the globe plugged into that instead.

Turn the flash unit ON using the On/Off button.

Press the “Z” top middle button on the flash unit to activate the WiFi mode (other options on toggling are Manual mode or optical remote TTL Canon/Nikon).

Ensure the channel is on the desired one (usually Channel 1 by default – press and hold GR/CH button then use the dial to change it).

Ensure the Group is the desired one (usually Group A by default – toggle through the groups by pressing the Gr/Ch button).

The flash should now be able to be fully remotely controlled from your X1 remote controller which sits on your camera hotshoe.

Using your X1T-O remote controller:

You need to purchase the Olympus version which is the X1T-O model (can be used on any Micro Four Thirds camera including Panasonic).

X1

Install two AA batteries then attach it to the camera hotshoe.

Turn the camera on, and I generally set the camera’s PASM dial to Manual so I can choose shutter speed (to control ambient exposures) and the aperture (to control depth of field) and generally set ISO to base ISO of 200.

Ensure the camera’s flash mode is set RC = OFF (RC is for optical remote control which we are NOT using) and to Fill-in flash or similar so that a signal will be sent to the hotshoe. Note , you don’t activate Super FP in the camera – the remote control will do this for you!!!

Turn the  X1 on using the switch on the side, and decide which mode you want to use for the other switch – normal or HSS (Super FP mode) – unless you are shooting in bright sun and need a fast shutter speed to allow a wide aperture, use the normal mode.

Check the LCD screen on the X1 to ensure the channel corresponds with that on your flash unit and use the rear dial to go to the Group – you can then use the mode button to choose TTL  or Manual Flash Output control.

By default, turning on the X1 will activate the flash’s controls automatically (if your channel and group are correct) and so the LED modelling light will be turned on (you will need to go to the flash unit to turn this off manually).

Now the fun part – it just works!

The X1 remote specs indicate you should be able to control the flash up to 100m away – assuming you have no nasty water pipes, etc in the way which block radio signals.

Change your shutter speed to give a desired ambient exposure for a given aperture and ISO.

Take the shot and hopefully it will all work as if you are using a normal Olympus remote flash but without the annoying optical pre-flash signals and with far more flash output and remote distance capability.

HOWEVER, an important point – the camera’s flash settings such as flash exposure compensation and FP mode are IGNORED by the X1 – to set a flash exposure compensation, select the flash group on the X1 then, assuming the flash mode is set to TTL (use the mode button for this),  press GR button then the dial to change flash exposure compensation and then GR button again to save it. As mentioned above, if you want to use FP mode, slide the side switch to H mode.

Now for some advanced stuff – over-powering the sun:

On the Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark I and Mark II, you can flash sync up to 1/250th sec in normal mode – the camera won’t let you go faster than that shutter speed unless either:

  • you set the X1 to HSS mode (but this dramatically reduces the maximum output of the flash as shutter speed gets faster), OR,
  • use what I will call “push-sync” (similar to the Cactus Power Sync or Pocket Wizard Hypersync mode) you still use the X1 in normal mode, but trick the camera into firing flash at faster shutter speeds without FP mode by placing a single flash pin hotshoe adapter between the camera hotshoe and the X1 (or connect to the X1 via a PC sync cable) in which case you lose TTL capability but my tests show you can now fully sync at 1/320th sec, and even get to 1/500th sec with some loss of flash effect (black band) on the top 1/3rd of the image – but this could be usable for some compositions in outdoor shots and allow you to over-power the sun.

Using an on-camera flash as well:

If you attach an Olympus TTL flash onto the X1′s hotshoe, unfortunately, the X1′s hotshoe is only a single pin type and NOT a TTL pass through (unlike the cactus V6 II remotes which do have TTL passthrough) and thus the ONLY control over the flash via the camera is triggering the flash.

The flash unit acts like it is connected via a PC sync cable – no auto TTL, no auto zoom control, no RC master capability.

If the X1 switch is turned OFF, then the flash does not fire at all.

If the X1 is switched ON and set to HSS mode, the flash will fire, but at shutter speeds above 1/250th sec, it will not sync properly as the flash HSS mode will not be activated – at 1/320th sec with an Olympus FL-50R flash only 1/3rd of the top of the image receives flash which is the opposite to usual over sync speeds and thus unusable.

The good news is that if the X1 is set to normal mode (not HSS), you can just use the flash in “AUTO” mode (you must manually dial in the ISO, aperture and exposure compensation as well as zoom position), or in Manual mode where you just dial in the manual flash output and the zoom position.

One man band hand held Octabox outdoor portrait shooting:

The Godox AD600B can be mounted to any Bowens S mount studio light accessory (there is a locking device to ensure they don’t fall off) such as the 43″ Godox Umbrella style Octabox softbox for nicely diffused portrait lighting, and usually these are mounted on a lighting stand.

However, the AD600/600B has a wonderful trick in that you can remove the flash bulb, plug in a remote head (the AD-H600B), plug the flash bulb into the remote head and mount your softbox to the remote head.

remote head

This allows you to carry the heavy part , the AD600 itself with battery, in a specially designed shoulder strap case (the Godox PB-600 should case/carry bag), or perhaps in a backpack, hand hold the AD-H600B with softbox attached in one hand and shoot with your light Olympus camera in your other hand.

Tiring – yes, but at least it is possible, and you may be able to overpower the sun!

Need more power? Just buy a 2nd AD600B and attach a 1200Ws AD-H1200 remote head with a 1200Ws bulb and you have twice the output from the one remote flash head!

And of course, you can add other radio remote slave units:

There are a range of other X1 compatible Godox flash units which can be used in the same or in different flash groups (each group will have the same exposure setting).

If the AD600B is too big for you, then you can still get to a Bowen S mount lighting system via the Godox AD-B2 twin head which allows you to use either:

  • power it with either one or two Godox AD-200 units plugged directly into it
  • use either one or two Godox AD 200 flah bulbs, or one Godox AD 360 bulb (which is a little more powerful than just using one AD 200 bulb)

If that is too big, then the very popular Godox Wistro AD360 with separate lithium ion power pack gives you plenty of power in a more speedlight styling although too heavy for on-camera use.

360

 

For additional remote slaves, there are the pocket sized but powerful Godox AD 200 units, or you can go the traditional speedlight route with a variety of Godox on-camera style TTL flash units – some of which are cross-platform for on-camera use on a variety of camera brands.

AD200

Godox also make a range of AC powered studio lights with various capabilities and also the AR-400 hybrid ring flash/LED.

But why stop there – you can even add a Cactus V6II radio remote flash system into the mix!

Now I am really going crazy!!!

Stacking a Godox transmitter on top of a Cactus V6 II transceiver really does work amazingly well to give you TWO SYSTEMS at the same time!

First, insert a Cactus V6 II radio remote controller onto the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera’s hotshoe.

Insert a Godox X1 TO radio remote transmitter onto the hotshoe of the Cactus V6 II and turn it on.

Turn on the camera, and half-press shutter while turning on the Cactus V6 II transceiver to transmitter mode, it should then AUTO-DETECT BOTH the camera AND the Godox X1 as being Olympus TTL devices – now we are cooking indeed!

Ensure the Cactus and the Godox are set to DIFFERENT CHANNELS (and any slave devices for each are set to the appropriate channels to match).

NOW, you can use the Cactus V6 to control your Cactus V6 II compatible transceivers or flash units (and when the firmware upgrade comes this month hopefully, we are promised Olympus TTL compatibility of remote flashes – even Canon/Nikon flashes – until then we have to use manual power control only but there is HSS functionality) PLUS you still get TTL remote control of your Godox mediated slaves including the AD600B!!

Furthermore, if you set the Cactus V6II mode to Normal-HSS so it can automatically use either, the X1 switch of HSS or normal will control the Cactus and the camera as to whether to use HSS or not! Now that is very cool indeed.

I have tested this with a Cactus controlled remote Olympus FL-600R flash in manual output control at the same time as remote controlled AD600B in TTL mode and it seems to work very nicely, even in HSS/FP mode.

This should then allow 8 groups of flashes to be remotely controlled from your camera at up to 100m away, with each group having their own power output setting, and once the Cactus firmware is available – all with TTL and HSS functionality, even if they are Canon or Nikon flash units (just need a cactus V6 II transceiver for them).

If you have a Sony A7 II full frame mirrorless camera as well – just buy the Sony versions of the transmitters to go on the camera and all should be well.

Likewise for your Canon, Nikon or Fuji cameras (although for these you only need a special Godox transmitter as the Cactus V6 II will fit all except Sony).

Enter the new world of cross-platform radio remote TTL flash compatibility!

For more information on the Godox and Cactus systems see:

 

 

 

The beautiful Musee D’Orsay – a must see art gallery in Paris – part III

Written by admin on August 5th, 2017

Part III of my little exposé of the wonderful Musee D’Orsay art gallery.

Let’s go onto some more of my favorite artworks – the gallery boasts an incredible range of beautiful nudes which I will limit here to hopefully ensure viewing is not an issue in workplaces although there is a bold male nude as an allegory to war at the end of this post!

These were all shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera with the Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 pro lens.

A touch of my own styling to some of the beautiful marble sculptures:

D'Orsay

Denys Puech Aurore 1900:

D'Orsay

D'Orsay

Georges de Feure Panneau d’Elegante 1901-1903:

D'Orsay

Eduoard Vuillard Le Doctor Georges Viau dans son cabinet dentaire 1914:

D'Orsay

Pierre Bonnard La Loge 1908:

D'Orsay

Pierre Bonnard Le chapelle du chateau de Versailles 1917:

D'Orsay

Aristide Maillol La femme a l’ombrelle 1895:

D'Orsay

Felix Valloton Madame Alexandre Bernheim 1902:

D'Orsay

Felix Valloton Baigneuse Rose 1893:

D'Orsay

Georges Seurat Poseuse de profil 1887:

D'Orsay

Charles Angrand Couple dans la rue 1887:

D'Orsay

Paul Signac Femme a l’ombrelle 1893:

D'Orsay

Paul Signac Femmes au puits 1892:

D'Orsay

Paul Signac Entre du port de la Rochelle 1921:

D'Orsay

 

A break from the artworks – lets look at the exciting world of cross-platform radio remote TTL flash for Olympus, Panasonic, Fujifilm, Sony, Canon, Nikon, Sigma, Pentax users – our world has changed!

Written by admin on July 28th, 2017

Until recently if you wanted to do radio remote TTL flash, you needed a Canon dSLR with a Canon-compatible flash and a radio remote system, or a Nikon dSLR with a Nikon-compatible flash and a radio remote system.

Initially these radio remote systems were provided by companies such as PocketWizard or RadioPopper, and then a couple of years ago both Canon then Nikon added their own radio remote TTL flash to their latest cameras and flashes.

The PocketWizard system particularly became very popular with the professional photographers and is renown for its reliability, build quality and the early ground breaking ability to not only provide remote TTL flash and HSS flash and pas-through TTL to a top-mounted hotshoe but also its proprietary HyperSync which allowed full output flash at marginally faster than usual shutter speeds without the power output loss that HSS flash caused.

Unfortunately, Pocket Wizard failed to recognise the ground swell of mirrorless cameras and increasing cross-system ownership that has resulted and although they did create a remote system which supported the Panasonic GH4, in general their receivers would not fire Olympus flashes even in manual mode let alone TTL mode with Olympus cameras, and of course if you owned a couple of camera systems you had to have a different set of Pocket Wizard units (Flex TT5/TT6/MiniTT1)  for each camera system, and there was, and still is, no mix and matching of systems in TTL mode.

But its now mid-2017, and we are in a totally new scene thanks to Cactus V6 II remote system and the Godox remote system – both of which offer cross-platform radio remote TTL flash albeit with different approaches.

If I were to buy a flash unit or studio flash now, I would strongly consider how it would be used for my Olympus, Sony and Canon cameras with either or both of the two new systems – neither of which are perfect but a vast improvement on what we currently have, and far better than the rubbish optical remote RC mode of the Olympus system (yes, I love Olympus but I am not paid by any company including Olympus who have never offered me any freebies or special discounts and so yes, I am able to call them out when I feel it is appropriate – that said perhaps they have done us all a big favour in allowing these new third party solutions to come to the party and solve our problems).

Let’s compare the two cross-platform approaches to radio remote TTL flash:

The Cactus V6 II approach:

This is the more cost effective approach, particularly if you have existing flash units – you just buy 1 transceiver to mount on the camera and another to mount on your digital-TTL capable flash (the flash will need to be either Canon, Nikon or Olympus digital TTL capable – not Pentax unless you are also using a Pentax camera, and not Fujifilm unless you are also using a Fujifilm camera).

These transceivers are able to AUTO-Detect the camera or flash system (although there are a few gotchas and workarounds – see later).

This means IF it all works as the manufacturer suggests it will, you could buy 5 units, place one on your Olympus camera’s hotshoe (which can optionally also mount any digital TTL flash unit as outlined above) and attach one to each of a Canon 580EXII flash, an Olympus FL50R flash, a Godox TT685 flash and a Nikon SB-900 flash and ALL will fire with radio remote TTL exposures with flash exposure compensation in 0.1EV increments and separate for each (if they are assigned to one of the 4 possible radio groups)  and optionally in HSS/FP mode for faster shutter speeds and wider apertures, or one of the two Group Sequence modes, remote manual flash zoom, and even in the Cactus proprietary Power Sync mode which allows a slightly faster than usual shutter speed at full flash output – and yet there is much more it can do including display all flash unit power outputs, Delay mode, AF assist light and remote camera shutter release!

Decide to use your Canon dSLR to shoot instead, cool, just turn the transceiver off, put it on the Canon, let it auto-detect and away you go.

Working in an environment with lots of other photographers using the same system which is causing cross firing – no problem, just set all your transceivers to the same 4 digit RADIO ID value.

If you are running a workshop and want other users to fire your flash set up – no problem – just make sure they are using the same radio ID and turn on Multi-Master mode each photographer can choose their own exposure compensation settings – just try to avoid firing at the same time as someone else!

As an alternative, you can buy a very affordable Cactus RF60X flash unit which already has a remote transceiver built in so this saves you money and complexity.

Some gotchas and workarounds of the Cactus V6 II system:

  • there is a special Sony version of the transceiver (V6 IIs) which is required if you wish to attach to either a Sony camera or a Sony-mount flash, but it can essentially achieve the same as the above.
  • requires firmware upgrade for cross-platform compatibility, the Olympus/Panasonic/Micro Four Thirds compatibility should be available August 2017.
  • as with the Godox system, it operates in the 2.4GHz radio frequency range and this may have issues with interference at times and is generally limited to 100m
  • READ the MANUAL: to auto-detect camera system, half-press the shutter release of camera while switching on the V6 II to TX mode
  • Power Sync may require the user to adjust the sync time in order to eliminate any banding issues (black line across the image).
  • “Power Sync” may not give you much more and there is no option to go less than full power output – but then you usually want full power output in these situations unless you also need short recycle times.
  • Cactus V6 II does not work with Cactus V4, V2s or V2 flash trigger models (but is compatible with V6 but not in HSS mode, and with V5 for basic non-TTL modes only including flash triggering and shutter release triggering)
  • there is a limited range (currently 60 units) of currently available flash units that are automatically usable with this system – others will require you to create your own custom flash profile on your computer and upload it to the transceiver (this can store up to 10 such profiles) and then you will need to manually select which profile to use for the flash.
  • some cameras have a  thicker than usual metal spring plate in the hotshoe which can interfere with the flash contacts and this may need to be removed (easily done) – examples include some Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Fujifilm models – this does not appear to be a problem with my E-M1 mark I or mark II
  • the hotshoe locking pin position is optimised for Canikon and thus there may be some mechanical instability on other systems, when using Olympus flashes, moving it 0.5mm may remedy this, but there may still be issues on the camera and this becomes more risky if you are mounting a flash onto the camera-mounted transceiver as the weight may cause it to fall off – this does not appear to be a problem with my E-M1 mark I or mark II
  • the latest July firmware has issues with TTL passthrough when used with the Olympus E-M1 Mark II (mark I seems to be OK in brief testing)
  • there is limited compatibility with some cameras including:
    • Nikon D600 and Panasonic GX-8 camera are not fully compatible with HSS mode when used with a Cactus RF60 flash (but presumably the RF60X is OK)
    • high-speed sync modes not supported on Fujifilm X-E2 / XE2S, Fujifilm X100T cameras, and, Fujifilm flashes do not support HSS capabilities.

The Godox X1 approach:

Godox have really taken massive strides towards world domination of enthusiast and pro lighting (and their sudden rise in popularity perhaps may be part of the reason for Bowens lighting company apparently going out of business – although the Bowens name will live on thanks to the Bowens S mount which is one of the more universal lighting accessory mounts – including for the Godox studio style lights).

In the first instance they brought to the market their lovely, powerful and versatile portable flash units with lithium ion batteries and battery packs which have made strobists all over the world jump for joy.

Next, they upped the ante substantially this year when they announced cross-platform support.

Unlike the Cactus system (other than the dedicated Cactus V6 II Sony module), the Godox remote transceivers require a system dedicated transceiver attached to the camera hotshoe such as:

  • for Olympus or Panasonic cameras either:
  • for Canon cameras, X1C TTL Wireless Flash Trigger
  • for Nikon cameras, X1N TTL Wireless Flash Trigger
  • for Sony cameras, the X1S TTL Wireless Flash Trigger
  • for Fuji cameras, the X1T-F TTL Wireless Flash Trigger

Each of these camera mounted X1 triggers have a TTL-pass-through top hotshoe.

Like the Cactus system with their Cactus RX60X, there are Godox flash units with inbuilt receivers and a very nice range of units there are such as:

  • Godox Wistro AD600 portable 600Ws lithium ion battery studio flash with ability to be used with either a 600Ws or incredible 1200Ws flash head (this requires two AD600′s to power it), and optional lithium ion battery pack and Bowens or Godox mount studio lighting accessories such as softboxes
  • Godox Wistro AD360II - a more portable option but it is regarded as too heavy to mount on a camera, usually used with hand grip and power pack and strobists accessories
  • Godox Wistro AD200 pocket flash
  • Godox Wistro AR400 ring flash
  • Godox V860II-O - similar to an Olympus FL-50R in that it can use the Olympus optical RC system as master or slave, but in addition it can be used as a slave (and perhaps as a master according to web page specs) for the Godox  X1 system, and it uses a 2000mAh lithium ion battery pack for 650 full power shots per full battery charge

Unlike the Cactus system, if you wish to fire a non-Godox flash unit in remote TTL mode, you will need a different Receiver unit and specifically, one that matches the flash system, thus, for a Canon flash you will need the X1R-C receiver to attach the the Canon flash.

A brief side-by-side comparison:

 

Cactus V6 II Godox X1
Price $US95 per transceiver
$US46 for transceiver
types of units needed only 1 type BUT need a different one for a Sony camera or flash need a different one for each camera system, and a different receiver for each system of non-Godox X1 flash, for example, a XTR-16, XTR-16S receiver
radio frequency 2.4GHz, range up to 100m
2.4GHz, range up to 100m
radio groups 4
5
radio channels 16 32
Radio ID 4 digit
No
HSS / FP mode most cameras (except Fujifilm flashes)
most cameras except Fujifilm?
front/rear curtain sync Yes
Yes
Multi-flash strobe mode Yes
Yes
flash exposure compensation Yes, +/- 3EV in 0.1EV increments
Yes, +/- 3EV in 1/3rd EV increments
remote manual zoom control Yes
Yes
AF assist lamp Yes 1W LED
Yes manual open
Multi-Master mode Yes, up to 20 photographers
?
Power sync mode Yes but needs user to configure
Can sync E-M1 to 1/320th in PC-Sync non-TTL mode
Flash delay mode Yes 1msec to 999 secs
0-10msec for synch delay adjustment
hotshoe locks into Olympus cameras to avoid slippage Maybe (lock pin slightly out as optimised for Canikon) Yes (X1T-O)
PC sync socket Yes
Yes
USB firmware upgradeable Yes Yes
Can remotely trigger camera shutter release via cable Yes “Relay mode” – also available is a laser motion detection trigger to radio remotely act on the V6 II ?
power supply 2 x AA batteries 2 x AA batteries
size 72x72x42mm, 96g
72x75x52mm, 90g
ease of use must set to auto detect when starting, but otherwise fairly universal plug and play
camera-dedicated transceivers do not need to auto detect
low power output for short flash exposures 1/256th output
1/128th output only?
lock flash exposures Yes ?
display power of each flash unit Yes displays exp. compensation or power output fraction only
compatible flash units 60 plus ability to store 10 custom profiles which user can create, or Cactus V6 II specific units such as RF60X
system-specific flashes for the receiver, or Godox X1 compatible flashes including Wistro studio flashes
flash system for TTL mode when mounted on the transceiver on camera any compatible flash – should Auto-detect?? no passthrough TTL – single pin hotshoe only

 

Which system should you buy?

If you need to purchase new flash units, and in particular, the awesome units such as the Wistro AD600 or AD360II, then it makes sense to go with the Godox system as you just need the flash units and the system specific transmitter for each camera system you own.

If you already have a mix of flashes, or you wish to use the special features of the cactus system such as Power Sync, then the Cactus V6II transceivers would be the way to go, although you may be wise until Cactus finalises all their TTL firmware and it is found to work as advertised.

It would not be entirely crazy to have BOTH systems for different needs.

It does alter which flash units I would invest in though, and perhaps the 3rd party flashes may be the best approach although there is always a risk the camera manufacturers introduce incompatibilities, but it is likely that Cactus and Godox will be able to address these through firmware updates.

Many pros will stay with their tried and true Pocket Wizards which do use a different bandwidth and are system specific with no cross-platform TTL or HSS capabilities – and there is no Olympus version as yet – ah yes, I have been waiting nearly 10 long years for an Olympus version and still there is no word.

For more information on remote TTL flash, see my wikipedia pages.

 

The beautiful Musee D’Orsay – a must see art gallery in Paris – part II

Written by admin on July 26th, 2017

Part II of my little exposé of the wonderful Musee D’Orsay art gallery.

Let’s go onto some more of my favorite artworks – the gallery boasts an incredible range of beautiful nudes which I will limit here to hopefully ensure viewing is not an issue in workplaces although there is a bold male nude as an allegory to war at the end of this post!

These were all shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera with the Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 pro lens.

Vincent van Gogh La Nuit étoilée (Starry night) 1888:

D'Orsay

Eugene Jansson Gryning over Ridderfjarden 1899:

D'Orsay

Edgar Degas Répétition d’un ballet sur la scène 1874, well we all know how much Degas loved painting and sculpting the ballet dancers, and he has left us all with his beautiful legacy of works such as this one:

D'Orsay

Edouard Manet La Dame aux éventails 1873:

D'Orsay

Pierre Auguste Renoir Danse à la ville 1883. one of my favorite painters who showed you don’t need the anatomic proportions to always be correct to have an aesthetic image (a yes, he often gets a bit of flack for this), and furthermore was brave enough to put blues and greens together without anything between in the majority of his works.

D'Orsay

Paul Cezanne Les Jouers de cartes 1890-95:

D'Orsay

Edgar Degas Danseuses bleues 1893:

D'Orsay

Claude Monet Femme à l’ombrelle tournée vers la gauche 1886:

D'Orsay

Edouard Manet Sur la plage 1873:

D'Orsay

Pierre Auguste Renoir La Liseuse 1874-76:

D'Orsay

Berthe Morisot Le Berceau 1872:

D'Orsay

Pierre Auguste Renoir Bal du moulin de la Galette 1876:

D'Orsay

Paul Cezanne Louis-Auguste Cezanne – the artist’s father 1866:

D'Orsay

Paul Cezanne Dominique – the artist’s uncle 1866-67:

D'Orsay

Luc Olivier Merson (1846-1920) La Fortune:

D'Orsay

Henri Camille Danger Fléau 1901, an allegory of war and a rather bold recent acquisition by the gallery to expand their late Academic period works – turn away now if you cannot cope with a full frontal male nude:

D'Orsay

Just Becquet L’Abîme marble 1901 (This apparently translates as the abyss):

D'Orsay

 

The beautiful Musee D’Orsay – a must see art gallery in Paris – part I

Written by admin on July 25th, 2017

The Musee D’Orsay has to be one of my favorite art galleries with its art works primarily from the late 19th century and early 20th century, dominated by beautiful sculptures, and paintings from the Romanticism, Pre-Raphaelite, Symbolist and French Impressionism movements to name a few, and set in the wonderfully transformed train station.

It does have a rather strange lack of toilets though, and the only one I found had a long line of ladies queued up and forced to stand outside the open door of the men’s room with full view of the line of urinals – well when in Paris, you just have to not worry about these things – although I suspect it was more awkward for the ladies who are not used to such experiences!

But let’s go onto some of my favorite artworks – although the gallery boasts an incredible range of beautiful nudes which I will limit here to ensure viewing is not an issue in workplaces.

These were all shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II Micro Four Thirds camera with the Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 pro lens.

I had to adjust the lights a bit for this one :)

D'Orsay

Amaury-Duval Madame de Loynes 1862:

D'Orsay

Ernest Hébert La Lavandera ou Jeune lavandiére songuese 1869:

D'Orsay

Honoré Daumier Crispin et Scapin 1864:

D'Orsay

Maxwell Armfield Faustine 1904:

D'Orsay

Edward Burne-Jones Princess Sabra 1865:

D'Orsay

Ford Madox Brown a pioneer in the Pre-Raphaelite movement – Haydée découvrant le corps de Don Juan 1878:

D'Orsay

Edgard Maxence La Légende bretonne 1906:

D'Orsay

Ferdinand Hodler Madame Valentine Godé-Darel malade 1914:

D'Orsay

Gustave Moreau Orphée 1865 (Moreau continues the myth of Orpheus, with the vision of a girl dressed in Oriental finery rescuing the poet’s head which rests on his lyre, and the girl is gazing at him with a melancholy air. The diagonal compositions suggests a playing card, in which the musicians in the top left corner are balanced by the turtles, lower right, whose carapace, according to the myth, was used to make the first lyre – Moreau counts as a decisive figure in the Symbolist movement):

D'Orsay

Gustave Moreau Hésiode et la Muse 1891:

D'Orsay

Henri de Toulouse-Laetrec Rousse (La Toilette) 1889:

D'Orsay

Henri de Toulouse-Laetrec Femme de profil Madame Lucy 1896:

D'Orsay

Philipe de Laszlo La comtesse Anna de Noailles 1913:

D'Orsay

Pablo Picasso La Buveuse d’absinthe dit aussi Buveuse accoudée 1901:

D'Orsay

Henri de Toulouse-Laetrec Au Nouveau Cirque, Papa Chrysantheme 1894:

D'Orsay

A. Carrier Belleuse 1873:

D'Orsay

Denys Puech Sirene 1889:

D'Orsay

Gustave Courbet L’Atelier du peintre 1855:

D'Orsay

Jean-Francois Millet Femme nue couchée 1844-1845:

D'Orsay

It is indeed a privilege to be able to view these works in reality, and it is not something to be taken for granted with the world going crazy yet again and destruction of culture rampant.