Tag Archives: Canon

Undressing a Sony NEX Camera

Undressing a Sony NEX Camera

I have to say I have one of the better jobs on the planet, at least for a photography gear-head. The part I like best — well, really there’s a lot of parts I like best — but one fun part is that my job description includes: Take things apart. See how they work. Learn how to fix them.
Sometimes taking things apart is disappointing. I just don’t want to know things like “so you hold that together with a piece of Scotch tape, huh?” Some cameras and lenses look really nice on the outside, but inside there’s so much chaos I wonder if someone in the corporation is saying “We have 2 million of these parts left over, put them in something so we don’t have to write them off.”

Every so often, though, I get to see an internal design that is so elegant and efficient I think the engineers should have signed it like a painting. The Sony NEX cameras are that way. Perhaps being so small required efficient engineering, or maybe the team that designed it just was so good. Maybe the fact that there was no legacy technology that was cheap to carry over to the next model let the engineers, rather than the beancounters, make all the decisions. Whatever the reason, the layout is amazing.

I got to take apart an NEX 3 the other day (water in a camera is a bad thing) and thought some of you might like seeing the insides so I took a few pictures along the way.

The Usual Disclaimer Stuff

First things first: if your camera looks like this, then leave it alone. I have it on good authority that the curse of Serenput I (3,500 years later and we still can’t top the Egyptians when it comes to a good curse) is inscribed in the electronic chips of every NEX camera:

Whoever shall enter here and take these offerings: his arm shall be cut off like that of a bull, his neck shall be twisted off like that of a bird, his office shall not exist, the position of his son shall not exist, his house shall not exist in Nubia, his tomb shall not exist in the necropolis, his god shall not accept his white bread, he shall be cooked together with the condemned, his children shall belong to the fire, his corpse shall not be to the ground, I shall be against him as a crocodile on the water, as a serpent on earth, and as an enemy in the necropolis.

We’re semi-trained, semi-professionals with another 20 of these on the shelf. If we screw it up, we’ll only have 19 left, which is probably less critical than if you screw up the only one you have and then need to ‘splain to your wife why you have to buy a new camera.

Now Let’s Get to It!

It’s pretty obvious the 4 screws on the front hold the mount on, just like with every other camera.

And then that the three screws under that hold the mount base, which also lets you remove the lens stop. So far just about like every other camera (although unlike some there are no shims under the mount).

Flipping the camera over and removing 13 screws lets the back come right off. Thank you Sony #1: Notice all 13 screws are exactly the same size, which is a nice thing. A typical SLR uses 4 or 5 different size screws and you have to mark or remember exactly which screw goes where.

Thank you Sony #2: all the back buttons are all mounted on a single flex with one connection: you can remove and replace it in about 30 seconds should the need arise. Just the circular dial button on most cameras has 6 to 9 pieces (which I can assure you can’t be reassembled in less than an hour, 15 minutes of which is for profanity breaks, the other 45 require using a magnifying loupe which leaves you cross-eyed for the rest of the day).

The tilting LCD is surprisingly easy to disassemble – removing a few screws removes the cover and exposes the flexes. Disconnecting those and the LCD comes free.

After the LCD is removed and it’s flexes disconnected, the metal shielding plate is lifted up and the circuit boards are visible. If you haven’t looked at other cameras, you may not appreciate just how clean and well laid out this is. Every flex connector comes onto the main circuit board directly: no long, winding, taped-down cables on this camera. Notice also there is significant electrical shielding over critical cables and circuit boards (I’ve removed the secondary shield over the main board already). What nice, clean design!

After disconnecting the flexes and removing a couple of screws the two circuit boards and the plastic frame under them come out. Another ‘thank you Sony’: the smaller assembly is the memory card circuit. Those break somewhat frequently and on some cameras (yes, I’m talking about you, Canon 5D II) you may end up replacing the entire circuit board when that happens. On the NEX that would never be necessary.

Under that pretty copper shield (another point worth considering: copper is much more expensive than aluminum) is the imaging chip. It’s held in place with 4 screws and no shims. I’m not sure if the mirrorless design with it’s close backfocusing distance means alignment of the imaging chip and lens mount isn’t as critical as on an SLR, or if Sony is able to machine to such close tolerances that shims aren’t necessary. Maybe one of you can enlighten me.

The last few assemblies are the shutter and battery compartment, again easily removed.

Only after they are removed is the top button assembly accesible. So note to self: don’t break the shutter button on this camera. The electronic connections on the lens mount and the metal chassis of the camera are the last pieces out (lower right in the picture below). Even completely disassembled, there are amazingly few parts to this camera.

For those of you who want to ask, no, there was no reason to put the camera back together after water submersion. We wouldn’t trust the electronics to keep working even if they did work for a while. But there are a number of nonelectric parts that are salvageable, which is why we take them apart. OK, really there aren’t a lot of salvageable parts, after water immersion. But taking them apart is fun anyway.

And to give you a bit of perspective: If I wanted to take pictures of all the parts from a disassembled SLR, I would have needed about 4 images the size of the above. I’m generally not a Sony fan, but it’s amazing how much Sony has simplified the design of this camera – not just compared to SLRs, but even to other mirrorless cameras. And props to them for doing a lot of little things that cost money but probably make the camera better and more reliable: heavy electronic shielding, gluing down the flex clamps, using copper shields instead of aluminum, etc.

About the author: Roger Cicala is the founder of LensRentals. This article was originally published here.

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It seems that Canon will have another “major announcement” at the 2012 NAB show

Canon NAB teaser: “The story continues”

It seems that Canon will have another “major announcement” at the 2012 NAB show on April 15th, 2012 in Las Vegas. My bet goes for a smaller and cheaper EOS C300 cinema camera.

Via Engadget

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The double instant Canon rebates are currently valid for the 60D, 7D and 5D Mark II cameras.

The latest Canon rebates

The double instant Canon rebates are currently valid for the 60D, 7D and 5D Mark II cameras.

Check also those camera+lens bundles (both offers expire March 31th):

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Tips From a Pro: Great Shots Take Great Planning

Tips From a Pro: Great Shots Take Great Planning

Photo by Jason Lindsey

Feedback from others doesn’t hurt either

It’s practically a photographic rite of passage: Making what you think are great photos only to be disappointed later when you find the images just don’t live up to your expectations. You then embark on the quest to discover the secret of photographic expressiveness, only to find it’s a never-ending challenge.
Commercial photographer Jason Lindsey has traveled this road, and he finds that a conscious thought process combined with immediate feedback from others can lead to a satisfying outcome. This is how he succeeded with this shot.
Lindsey was hired to promote Native American tourist destina-tions in North Dakota, and he knew his images needed to evoke authentic cultures. Pow-wows and dancing made perfect subjects for this assignment; for maximum control Lindsey arranged to have the dancers perform just for his camera. This let him get in close and draw on the power and mysticism of the moment. “I wanted to find the emotional quality of the dancing and not be too literal,” he says. “It’s important to capture the feeling of reality without losing the mystique.”
To do that, he started with his Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III and Canon 16–35mm f/2.8L zoom, set wide to capture all the scene’s important elements. The sound and movement of the feathers of the regalia, for example, are essential to the dance, so Lindsey emphasized them by shooting close in and through them. He also made sure the earth lodge was visible in the background to establish a sense of place. Then, in post, Lindsey desaturated all color, excepting the yellow and red in the garments.
Lindsey describes the process of finding a visual approach for a subject as “sketching” with a camera. At first, he visually explores the space by quickly trying various camera positions and a variety of lenses. Then he shares the images with others and invites their opinions. The resulting input, he says, can be invaluable for turning a preliminary sketch into a more successful final image.
For this shot, Lindsey and the ad campaign’s creative director identified the strongest ideas for Lindsey to refine.
The moral of this story? If you’re looking for a breakthrough to create more meaningful images, the secret may be to seek out the opinions of others.

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Tips From a Pro: Great Shots Take Great Planning

Tips From a Pro: Great Shots Take Great Planning

Photo by Jason Lindsey

Feedback from others doesn’t hurt either

It’s practically a photographic rite of passage: Making what you think are great photos only to be disappointed later when you find the images just don’t live up to your expectations. You then embark on the quest to discover the secret of photographic expressiveness, only to find it’s a never-ending challenge.
Commercial photographer Jason Lindsey has traveled this road, and he finds that a conscious thought process combined with immediate feedback from others can lead to a satisfying outcome. This is how he succeeded with this shot.
Lindsey was hired to promote Native American tourist destina-tions in North Dakota, and he knew his images needed to evoke authentic cultures. Pow-wows and dancing made perfect subjects for this assignment; for maximum control Lindsey arranged to have the dancers perform just for his camera. This let him get in close and draw on the power and mysticism of the moment. “I wanted to find the emotional quality of the dancing and not be too literal,” he says. “It’s important to capture the feeling of reality without losing the mystique.”
To do that, he started with his Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III and Canon 16–35mm f/2.8L zoom, set wide to capture all the scene’s important elements. The sound and movement of the feathers of the regalia, for example, are essential to the dance, so Lindsey emphasized them by shooting close in and through them. He also made sure the earth lodge was visible in the background to establish a sense of place. Then, in post, Lindsey desaturated all color, excepting the yellow and red in the garments.
Lindsey describes the process of finding a visual approach for a subject as “sketching” with a camera. At first, he visually explores the space by quickly trying various camera positions and a variety of lenses. Then he shares the images with others and invites their opinions. The resulting input, he says, can be invaluable for turning a preliminary sketch into a more successful final image.
For this shot, Lindsey and the ad campaign’s creative director identified the strongest ideas for Lindsey to refine.
The moral of this story? If you’re looking for a breakthrough to create more meaningful images, the secret may be to seek out the opinions of others.

read more

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March 08, 2012 at 02:40AM


How to Visualize Photography Lighting Setups in Blender

Not too long ago I finally got around to picking up a decent manual flash for exploring lighting and speedlight techniques. I picked up a Yongnuo YN-560 Speedlight Flash for Canon and Nikon, and my friend Sean was kind enough to send me his old radio triggers to play with. I was mostly all set to start exploring the world of off-camera lighting…

I say mostly because though I had a rough understanding of how I wanted to use the light, I was not well versed on what could be done with it. So I spent a bit of time on the Flickr Strobist Group, and read through all of the Lighting courses on the Strobist site. There is an absolute wealth of information on the site, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Having a reference for how the contribution of different types of light will affect the final outcome is very handy for me. I’ve seen people who have taken the time to setup lighting diagrams where they will modify a given light for direction/angle, and cycle through many possibilities to help as a reference (here is one cheat-sheet from DIY Photography).

This is nice, but what if I wanted to visualize the effect multiple lights will have all simultaneously? I guess I could go and shoot every, possible, variation, but I am really lazy. Plus, I don’t have access to a model with the patience to sit there while I fiddle with multiple lights, multiple times.

It occurred to me that I already had a great tool for doing this visualization already installed on my computer. That tool is Blender 3D. I already had been using this open source 3D modeling tool for some time, and was familiar enough with it to be comfortable emulating my lighting setups. All I needed was a good model.

Infinite Realities released a full 3D scan by Lee Perry-Smith that was graciously licensed under CC-BY. This gave me a full 3D scan of a head & shoulders with the UV maps already created for textures, and a normal map to use for bumping. Perfect!

I loaded up the model and textures, and proceeded to create some lights in Blender that would mimic lights I might use in the real world.

I focused first on a softbox. I have a DIY 24″ softbox I put together ages ago that I used as a primary light for some time. I wanted to emulate what I was getting as a result from that lightbox, virtually.

24″ softbox 45° cam left, up 30°

Moi

What’s cool, though, is that I can now add any other type of light that I want easily to see what the effect will look like. Say I wanted to add a kicker behind me on the shadow side of that softbox?

24″ softbox 45° cam left, up 30° with kicker behind ~ 45°

Or place 2 identical softboxes to either side of the subject…

24″ softbox left and right of subject

I can also emulate the effect of other types of light modifiers. If I wanted to use a ringflash only, I could do this…

Ringflash (or beauty dish if I wanted)

Or I could try any combination my heart desires! In this case, what about a clamshell setup, where I vary the power of the lower half of the setup…

Clamshell – top and bottom same power (both 24″ softboxes)

Clamshell – top full power, bottom 25% (both 24″ softboxes)

Clamshell – top full power, bottom 30% & kickers

I could go on and on with examples, but I think you get the idea.

Now, I’ll go ahead and leave the .blend file here for anyone to download and use. Don’t forget that you’ll need to grab Blender as well (download Blender here).

Download the 3D Lighting .blend file (27MB)

A few quick words of note to help out if you’re new to Blender. Right-click will select an object (it will turn orange). The “A” key will select all, and cycle to select none if you hit it again.

The softbox shown in the initial startup is set to always point at the model (so is the camera, btw), and to stay a set distance from them (approximately 2 feet). With the object selected (like the softbox), the “G” key will allow you to move it in a view, and the “R” key will allow you to rotate it in a view. The main window is what the camera is seeing, and there are side and top views right next to it.

Most importantly, the F12 function key will render your image for you!

I did intend to try to make this more user-friendly. The key word there was “intend” as it’s a royal PITA to do so. I may fiddle with it more if there is any response or interest, and try to help out where I can.

In the meantime, I generated the obligatory light map cheat sheet from all of the different renders. There are three here, one for the softbox level, at 30°, and at 60°. All of them move the softbox around the subject in 5° increments.

Softbox Level with subject, 5° increment rotation. (Download full size)

Softbox 30° with subject, 5° increment rotation. (Download full size)

Softbox 60° with subject, 5° increment rotation. (Download full size)

Feel free to use these cheat sheets however you see fit! Hopefully this will be helpful to at least a few people who might be brave enough to tackle the Blender interface to try this out. I know it’s been quite helpful for me to be able to quickly setup a scene and visualize what it will look like ahead of time!

About the author: Pat David is a Director of R&D by day, and an amateur photographer by night (and some weekends). You can find him writing up GIMP tutorials and other errata on his blog, or peruse more of his photography experiments on his Flickr page.

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March 07, 2012 at 12:55AM


Oops: Nikon Uses Stolen Canon 5D Mark II Footage for D800 Promo Video

Nikon caused a stir this past weekend after it was revealed that a promo video shown during the D800′s launch in Bangkok actually contained footage that was both used without permission and that wasn’t even captured with a Nikon D800. After a recording of the promo was uploaded to YouTube in mid-February, people began coming forward with reports that Nikon had used their videos without permission.
Norwegian photographer Terje Sørgjerd — whose amazing time-lapses we’ve featured multiple times — spotted some of his video clips in the promo, and was quite surprised — especially due to the fact that he’s sponsored by Canon and that the videos were shot with a 5D Mark II:

Here’s the video that made a cameo in the promo:

The shot at 2:13 in Terje’s video is seen at 0:18 in Nikon’s promo.

What’s more, snowboarding scenes in the promo (e.g. 0:50) were taken from the trailer for The Art of Flight — a snowboarding film loaded with footage captured with the Phantom HD Gold high-speed camera.

On the bright side, Nikon was quick to fess us and apologize for the mistake. A day after his complaint through Facebook, Terje posted another message stating that Nikon had responded and that the matter is now “fully resolved”:

(via Steve’s Digicams)

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March 06, 2012 at 05:40AM


Comparing Video from the Canon 5D Mark II and 5D Mark III at ISO 12,800

Japanese website mono-logue released this short 30-second video comparing footage from the Canon 5D Mark II and the new 5D Mark III captured at ISO 12,800. The difference in noise levels is remarkable.
Here’s a closer look:

(via mono-logue via EOSHD)

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March 06, 2012 at 03:02AM


Rumor: Zeiss Distagon T* 2,8/15 ZF.2/ZE super wide angle lens to be announced in 10 days

Zeiss is rumored to announce a new Distagon T* 2,8/15 ZF.2/ZE super wide angle lens on March 16th, 2012. The lens is expected to start shipping in May, 2012. The angle of view will be 110 degrees. The lens will have a 95mm filter thread. The widest Zeiss lens for DLSR cameras is currently the Distagon T* 18mm f/3.5 (,395.00). Zeiss produces also the Super Wide Angle 15mm f/2.8 Distagon T* ZM lens for M-mount (,600.00). The new Distagon T* 2,8/15 is expected to be available for Canon and Nikon mounts (not sure at that point for any other mounts).

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March 06, 2012 at 01:40AM


Close-Up Photos of Wild Lions Captured with an Armored “BeetleCam”

UK-based wildlife photographers Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas got the Internet’s attention a couple years ago with the BeetleCam, a special remote controlled DSLR that allowed them to capture close-up photos of animals in the wild that photographers would have difficultly strolling up to. After the success of that experiment, they decided to return to Africa last summer with upgraded (and armored) versions of the BeetleCam in order to photograph lions in Kenya.

We had with us two BeetleCams. The first was an armoured version of the original BeetleCam, equipped with a Canon 550D. The second was a more advanced model, boasting a live video feed, HD movie recording and a Canon 1Ds MK III. We imaginatively named the more advanced buggy “BeetleCam Mark II”.

You can find more photos and read more about their experience — including a close call with a lion — over on their blog or the BeetleCam project page.

Image credits: Photographs by Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas and used with permission

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