The Digital Journalist
Tech Tips

by Chuck Westfall

July 2006

I hope you enjoy this month's column, and encourage you to submit questions of your own via the e-mail link at the end of this page.

Will Canon update the firmware on the 1D Mark II N to include the improved Auto Rotate feature that is found on the 30D? I would argue that this is a much-needed timesaving feature for the 1 series.

Canon U.S.A. has forwarded this request to Canon Inc. for consideration. Thanks for the suggestion!

I am the owner of a Nikon LS-1000 35mm Film Scanner (SCSI connector) and I have been unable to use it with my new desk computer. Do you know if there is any way to connect the scan properly to the computer? Please tell me if there is a way and the name of the cable, connector, etc.

The LS-1000 scanner is supported on the Nikon USA Web site at the following URL:

Nikon Support

SCSI interfaces are not usually built into current personal computers, but there are various SCSI-to-USB and SCSI-to-IEEE1394 adapters available on the market. I would recommend that you try contacting Nikon Technical Support in your country or region to determine if any of these adapters have been tested or approved for use with the LS-1000. You might also want to check the URL above to see if the current version of Nikon Scan software is newer than the version you have been using so far.

I'm curious if switching lenses while the camera is still on has any potential downsides, other than the obvious loss of everything in the buffer. I'm particularly concerned whether leaving the camera on increases the likelihood that dust might be attracted into the camera, or if there are any detrimental effects on image stabilized lenses. I'd also appreciate any additional insight you can provide on why leaving the camera turned on might be a bad idea, or why it really doesn't matter.

I'm not sure where you got the idea that switching lenses would clear an EOS digital SLR's buffer memory while the camera is writing to a memory card, because it doesn't. On your second question, it's always possible for dust to enter the camera when changing lenses, but whether the camera is on or off during this operation makes no difference. On your third question, no detrimental effects are caused by changing an image stabilizer lens while the camera is on. I've covered the pros and cons of leaving an EOS digital SLR switched on in terms of power consumption in the September 2005 column of Tech Tips, available here:

Other than these issues, the main concern about leaving a camera turned on is the possibility of unintentional shutter release that may occur if the equipment is stored in a gadget bag or other location where the shutter button might be pressed inadvertently.

I have an EF16-35mm f/2.8L lens that displays very poor sharpness wide open in the corners, all the way to about 1/3 of the way to the center of the photograph. I have access to six more of these lenses, and all are alike in this poor sharpness regard. A friend had the same complaint, and sent his lens into Canon Factory Service for calibration. He claims it is now much better. So my question is--is he right? In fact, he ended sending every single one of his lenses in and claims they all came back significantly improved after Canon calibrated them. My question then continues to why these lenses should need calibration, even when new (why aren't L lenses, at such steep prices, completely calibrated before shipping)? And what exactly is done to them during calibration? Should I send in my lenses as well?

The EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM lens is certainly capable of producing professional image quality from corner to corner on any EOS SLR, including Canon's high-performance EOS-1Ds Mark II and EOS 5D full-frame models, as long as the lens is performing according to its design specifications. That doesn't necessarily mean that you're always going to see tack-sharp detail in the extreme corners of the frame when the lens is used at maximum aperture, but your expectations are simply too high if that's what you're looking for. If maximum sharpness is the goal, then I'd suggest placing the camera on a tripod and using a moderate aperture like f/5.6 or f/8. By the way, this recommendation applies to most other SLR lenses as well. I am not singling out the EF16-35mm lens.

Autofocus calibration is a separate issue from the overall sharpness of the lens, and it is a topic that I have addressed several times in this column. You may want to check the archives to read all of my comments on the subject, but as a brief summary, Canon calibrates SLR cameras and interchangeable lenses individually according to the tolerances for each component. All equipment is calibrated before it leaves the factory, but inevitably a small percentage of equipment requires further adjustment at our Factory Service Centers. Last month's column provided a detailed testing procedure to help customers determine if their EF24-70mm lenses require calibration, but the same test can be used on other lenses including the EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM.

The EOS 5D could use a lock-out for the self-timer drive mode, or move the self-timer mode to the menu. I have inadvertently activated the self-timer mode during wedding shoots when fumbling through ISO settings, etc., on the top of the 5D. Just a thought.

Thanks very much for the feedback! Just as an FYI, this is one of the features we offer on the EOS-1-class cameras via Personal Function control.

I recently had an assignment that required me to photograph at 1600 ISO using my Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II and EOS-1D Mark II N. I had to photograph a dance performance and stop motion on a low-lit set. At 1600, my exposures ranged from 1/250 to 1/500 at f/2.8. The problem I encountered was that in the black shadow area when I blew up the images I saw a number of blue dots. I tried using Noise Ninja to correct the problem but it only made it worse. Can you tell me what caused this and is there a solution to the problem?

Without seeing the images, it sounds like you found some digital noise in the shadow areas of your photos. Although the EOS-1Ds Mark II and EOS-1D Mark II N produce exceptionally low noise at ISO 1600 compared to most other digital SLRs, there is undeniably some noise in the images at this speed setting. You might not be able to get rid of it entirely, but the best technique to minimize its effects is to make sure that your overall exposure is correct. The camera's histogram is a good tool that you can use on set to make sure that your exposures are OK. Then, assuming a reasonably well-exposed subject, you can adjust the contrast of your image during post-processing in your computer to darken the shadow areas rather than lightening them. This technique is very effective at minimizing noise. Canon provides Digital Photo Professional software that makes it easy to adjust your RAW, TIFF and JPEG images, and there is a brand new online tutorial that you may find helpful:

Do you know if I can get the EOS utility to recognize my new Sandisk CF card reader, so it makes it easier to transfer my RAW images? Also if I can get the EOS utility to autostart when I plug in a new CF card, the way that it starts when I plug in my EOS 5D? Thanks.

The current version of EOS Utility is only compatible with EOS digital SLRs. It cannot be used with a card reader. But our other software, including Digital Photo Professional, ZoomBrowser EX and ImageBrowser, is compatible with most card readers, and typically allows direct import of RAW images into these programs.

I'm sure you've heard of the problems people are reporting with the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 on EOS 5Ds. I have a 5D and saw a need for the ST-E2 to work with my 580EX Speedlites, but don't want to purchase till the problem is fixed. Do you have any information on this?

Canon Inc. has acknowledged the issue and is working on a firmware update to resolve it. According to the most recent information, the new EOS 5D firmware is scheduled to be posted on the Web in early July here:

I was wondering if you could shed some light on a result I have been getting on my EOS-1D Mark II N. When shooting in raw file format I am getting very grainy results on my images. When testing using the same lighting, same shutter, F-stops and ISO settings, in both raw and large jpeg. The results show the raw images are very grainy compared to the large jpeg images. I am using Adobe Camera Raw conversion software. I would like to know if you have any reasons for this problem.

Without having access to the original files, I suspect that the difference in 'graininess' between the images converted from the raw file and the images shot as in-camera JPEGs is mostly due to the settings you used in your RAW conversion software. The Adobe Camera Raw software is very fast, but at its default settings, it tends to produce more noise in the conversions than it does when you use its optional noise reduction capabilities. Also, it looks like the exposure is a little bit under on some of your images, and this will accentuate noise when you correct for it during post-processing. I don't think there's anything wrong with the camera itself based on these images. If you want to shoot in raw mode at high ISOs (and there's certainly nothing wrong with that idea), then you need to investigate the noise reduction features of your raw conversion software in order to get the best results. Incidentally, the current version of Canon's DPP software also offers noise reduction settings for high ISO speed RAW images.

DPP currently strips all IPTC data from the image, forcing me to retype all the info. Any plans for an update that will support IPTC?

I can't comment on Canon's future plans, but we are working on various ways to improve our digital imaging software. One problem with IPTC metadata is that it is not an international standard. (There's a different metadata standard called NSK in Japan, for example), so adding support for IPTC without adding support for various alternatives wouldn't fly very well with customers outside North America.

On the positive side, IPTC metadata is gaining more support here because of its benefits for archiving. Whereas IPTC metadata was originally designed for use by newspapers, it is now becoming attractive to a far wider group of users. Typically, users who wish to add IPTC metadata to EOS images use a third-party software application such as Photo Mechanic from Camera Bits, BreezeBrowser from Breeze Systems, or Pocket Phojo from Idruna Software.

For more information on Photo Mechanic, visit the Camera Bits Web site here:

For more information on BreezeBrowser, visit the Breeze Systems Web site here:

For more information on Pocket Phojo, visit the Idruna Software Web site here:

Another option for using IPTC metadata with EOS images involves converting them to the Adobe DNG format. DNG has robust support for IPTC metadata via Adobe's XMP Extensible Metadata Platform. For more information, visit the following Web site:

Peter Krogh's book does a superb job of explaining the features, benefits and usage of the DNG format, with a lot of information on IPTC.

Hope this helps!

Thanks for reading Tech Tips! That's it for now. See you in August!

You are invited to submit questions about photo equipment, imaging technology, or photo industry trends that may have a bearing on your work or interests. I cannot promise to answer everything, but I pledge to do my best to address the issues that concern you. (Please use the e-mail link provided at the end of this article.)

© Chuck Westfall

After earning a degree in Professional Photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology and accumulating some valuable on-the-job experience during a 10-year stint in commercial photography and photo retail, Chuck Westfall began his corporate career with Canon U.S.A. in 1982 as a Technical Representative. He has steadily advanced through the ranks to achieve his present position as Director of Media & Customer Relationship for the company's Consumer Imaging Group, working out of Canon U.S.A.'s headquarters office in Lake Success, N.Y. Among his many assignments, Chuck Westfall is currently Canon USA's main media spokesman for new camera products. He also provides a unique insider's perspective to financial analysts who follow the company's CIG sales and marketing activities.

Chuck's involvement with digital cameras began in 1994, when he assisted Canon and Kodak engineers in developing the EOS-DCS series of professional SLRs. Since then, his responsibilities have expanded to include participation in the development and launching of many other Camera Division products, including Canon's professional and consumer-oriented digital cameras. Over the last 10 years, Chuck has continued to participate in the design, development, introduction and marketing support of camera products. Most recently, he supervised the launch of a comprehensive on-line and on-site dealer training initiative for the Camera Division.

On the personal side, Chuck married his beautiful wife Ying in 2000 and they have been blessed with a wonderful 2-year old daughter, Anna. As Chuck says, "Bringing up the baby is a blast, and we're enjoying every minute of it."