Saturday, November 28, 2015

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR Camera

Shooting with the 7D MKII was immediately intuitive and natural: operation, balance and appearance are similar to my old 7D. While it felt like an old friend in my hands, the 65-point AF array is what got me to lay down my hard earned cash. Here are my impressions about the 7D MKII after a month of shooting. CONSTRUCTION is superb: magnesium body, matte black paint and heavy duty weather seals. Appearance is nearly identical to the old 7D save for the small plastic bump topside for the GPS antenna. In hand it feels confident and solid. The thick textured rubber and finger groove make for a secure grip. The 3.0" 1,040,000 dot LCD is vivid and clear in most light--save for direct sunlight--but only a minor improvement over the old 7D. It's disappointing Canon didn't bump it up to a larger size or add touch screen ability. The shutter sound is softer than the original 7D but louder than a 6D. Silent drive mode fades operation to pianissimo, but with slower performance, making it ideal for ceremonies. CONTROLS: Most controls are the same as the old 7D but with some reshuffling and additions. The biggies are a dedicated "Rate" button, a larger and repositioned DOF button and a programable "spring" lever around the joystick. Controls feel solid and can be operated by feel while looking through the viewfinder. The lever is the most useful new control. At default programming, it cycles through the six AF area modes. Its placement next to the joystick makes switching AF modes and subsequent selection of AF points faster and more intuitive than the 7D and 70D. Like the 7D before it, my preferences are user selected single point or zone focus. Trusting a computer to pick the subject is often iffy. The 7D2 offers another first: the ability to set up both the AF-On and * buttons so one activates Servo AF and the other One-Shot. Ideal for subjects that move but suddenly stay still, e.g., tracking a bird in flight that lands. This setting is under C.Fn3: Disp/Operation => Custom Controls. Select the buttons you wish to customize, press "Info," and, finally, make your selection in the "AF Operation" detail. Many other custom AF options are valuable as well. AUTOFOCUS: The all cross-type, 65-point AF is the headline feature. Frame coverage is huge, besting any EOS before it. Off-center subjects are a snap: pick any AF point and focus is blazing fast and accurate. Low light AF is also vastly improved: locks in murky light the old 7D struggled in, e.g., dim night club and theatre stages. It drove my EF 300 4L USM and EF 70-200 4L IS USM lickety-split. AI servo and iTR effortlessly tracked brides, runners and bikers across the 65 AF points. Metering is tied to the active AF point and effortlessly adjusts to changing subject light. The keeper rate of moving subjects is nearly double that of my old 7D. And with buffering enough for 30 RAW images (fast CF card), that's a lot of keepers! The only AF nitpick thus far is my existing lenses needed micro adjustment (calibration) for optimal sharpness. Oddly, most of these same lenses were fine at default on my old 7D. IMAGE QUALITY: I processed RAW images in DPP 4.1 and was pleased with detail, color rendition and noise control. There is little difference in low ISO noise compared to the 7D. In fact, image quality is very similar to the 7D from ISO 100 to 800, i.e., excellent. At ISO 1600+ the 7D MKII pulls away from the 7D: a level less noise, but that noise is devoid of banding and more grain-like. This type of noise is easier to control with noise reduction plug-ins. I was able to easily squeeze out another stop of acceptable high ISO over my 7D. VIDEO: Contrast detection AF during video and LiveView is a mammoth improvement over the 7D: responsive, accurate and a camcorder-like movie servo mode. Wish it had a touch screen for focus-pulls. That said, the improved contrast detection AF is a great feature. VIEWFINDER: The 100% coverage and 1.0x magnification are the same spec as the old 7D but with improved clarity and brightness. Even with a F4 zoom the viewfinder is a joy to use: bright, smooth and vivid. Like an EVF, the transmissive LCD display--transparent LCD over the focusing screen--can display icons, AF patterns, metering patterns, grid and plain matte screens and an electronic level. You can choose not to display most of it. I stick with just the grid and active AF points.

Monday, November 16, 2015

2015 American Gold Eagle $10 BU U.S. Quarter Ounce Gold Proof Coin

Struck in 22–karat gold and featuring a breathtaking design of Lady Liberty, the exquisitely crafted 2015 American Eagle One–Quarter Ounce Gold Proof Coin is treasured by collectors around the world. Packaged in a velvet, satin–lined presentation case, each coin is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity. Celebrate our nation and mark any special occasion — graduation, wedding, Mother or Father’s Day — with the 2015 American Eagle One–Quarter Ounce Gold Proof Coin. Obverse: A version of Augustus Saint-Gaudens' full-length figure of Liberty with flowing hair, holding a torch in her right hand and an olive branch in her left. Reverse: Male eagle carrying an olive branch flying above a nest containing a female eagle and eaglets. Order yours today to add to your collection or as the perfect gift.

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