Blog Image

DAFOS Photo World


To catalogue my thoughts and experiences on things photographic and related topics, aiming to promote open-minded creativity and respect that hopefully contribute in some way to general peace and well-living.

My Kit

General Posted on Fri, July 23, 2021 00:41:44

(Someone providing feedback about the Viewfinders newsletter suggested members discussing their photography gear. Sounds like a good idea, so here we go.)

All My Kit (Smartphone photo)

My kit.

Before talking kit, let’s look at what I do, photographically. Next to being active in Viewfinders, I have a family that includes five grandchildren, so you can image there’s a lot of family photography in my life right now. Next to this, I have a day job in Communications, for which I do event shoots and some portraiture work, and this day job also allows me to continue (as a partial independent) a photography business I set up a long time ago as a means of supporting myself when I was suddenly laid off by my then employer. Mostly events photography, but some portratiture and increasingly, photos of artwork for catalogues etc… Because of the busy life (and covid), not a lot happens with that line right now, but when it does it is still important for me to be able to trust my kit. (As most working photographers know, you are only as good as your last gig so you gotta gettit right…).

That said, I am not really a kit geek. I have a set of reasonably good items that fit all but the most peculiar of tasks I need to do, be they for business or pleasure.

24-105mm f4 IS L

Bodies. As working camera, I have a Canon 5D Mk II. Already several years old, it is still proving to be as quick and as reliable as ever and (with 20 Mpx and some good optics) gives more than adequate quality for the type of work I do. It’s a very good all-round DSLR without many frills (which I wouldn’t use anyway), though is – like any DSLR – a little on the bulky side if you compare it with some recent mirrorless models. But as I said: most important is that it is fast and consistently reliable. I have a 7D kit as backup, too.

70-200mm f2.8 IS L

Optics. Most of the time (>95%), my kit is the 5D with Canon 24-105 mm f4 L IS (which works great on the 7D too). Beautifully sharp, and the slightly longer “reach” means I don’t need to change lenses so often. When I do, it’s most often for a Canon 70-20mm f2.8 L IS, though sometimes I do use a Tokina 19-35mm, or my recently acquired Canon 50mm f2.5 macro prime (I also have a 50mm f1.4 which is now redundant – any reasonable offer accepted). I often use a circular polariser, too (‘slim’ version for the wide angles, which fits all my main lenses).

50mm f2.5 macro

Lights. I have 2 Canon speedlights (plus one recently dead one – needs repair) and the special Canon ST-2 remote trigger, plus a very fun remote trigger/camera release kit from Hähnel (remember the squirrel?) One handy modifier I use quite a lot for portraits is a “beauty-dish”-like soft-box made by Roundflash, as well as some stands, umbrellas and backgrounds (inexpensive ones – these things have a tough life: my big background needs replacing). Oh, and two very cheap but remarkably good studio flash heads, which are small enough to be portable (useful for some of the jobs I do). I also have a tripod (Manfrotto), a remote release (cable and IR), and a monopod that I never use these days.

With this kit, I seldom find myself wanting for more. One item I would consider is a good, very wide-angle lens for full frame (like 10mm).

Tokina 19-35 mm

For processing I use Capture One Pro by Phase One. This is the real bee’s knees of raw image processors and the support for Canon is very good (I just can’t get on with Adobe software I’m afraid – it’s an engineer thing, don’t worry about it). I use X-Rite Color-checker Passport and Color-Munki for camera and monitor calibration/profiling.

Best accessory – Roundflash Dish: Worst buy: variable ND filter (it polarises, so shows strange dark areas, except on long lenses)

Et voilà – my kit, takes lovely photos and is good on the job too. Me happy…

Kit List


Canon 5D Mk-II, Canon 7D


Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS L, Canon 24-105 mm f4 IS L, Canon 50mm f2.5 macro, Canon 50mm f1.4 Tokina 19-35mm

Canon EF-S 55-85 kit lens and Sigma 10-20mm (EF-S mount, for 7D)


Circular Polariser, UV filter, Variable ND filter

Canon cable release + IR

X-rite Colorchecker Passport

Tripod (Manfrotto)


Canon 430 EX + 580 EX-II speedlights

QS-DGS150 flash heads

Mini Manfrotto LED light

Canon ST-2 remote trigger, Hähnel “Captur Pro” remote flash/camera trigger kit

Light Accessories:

Foldable Backdrop

Roundflash “dish” speedlight diffuser

Reflector (5 colours including black)

Umbrellas (Several)

Flash stands (3 in total)

Various GOBOs / modifiers

Post Processing: Capture One Pro, with (BenQ)  monitor calibration using X-Rite Pantone Color-Munki and Color-Checker Passport

My Digital Workflow

Things Digital Posted on Wed, April 24, 2019 21:23:29

To try and launch a kind of learning experience around how to make photographs, I thought to describe my own “workflow” and see if this could identify some items for interesting and educational discussion.

Step 1. Take the pictures.

You could say that the processes are different for every single shot you’ve ever taken. For me, as probably for most, it means setting the camera to a basic set-up, from which any special needs can be selected without too much trouble. This may change during a day, depending on the lighting, indoor/outdoor, etc… but it’s a pretty standard way to work. A trick I use which may not be so standard is as follows. I generally favour Aperture Priority mode and set up the camera accordingly. I do take the trouble of  programming a set of Manual settings I can quickly switch to, that can be useful to “save the day”. Typically, settings for using a flash when the rest of the shoot is available light.

Step 2: Get the pictures off the camera.

For this, I connect the camera to my main computer and use the Canon “EOS Utility” to download the photos. You can of course take the memory card out of the camera and use a card-reader to copy the files, but I find that the Canon utility saves me a lot of bother: all orientation information about the shot is kept (portrait / landscape – something I had trouble with in the past), and the photos all end up in a logically named folder in a place I can easily find, without the need for any input from me (I’m lazy).

My computer is set up to automatically take a backup copy of any new files every day on a local drive, and also to my network connected server. This backup also saves the pictures I have worked on. Very handy. I don’t delete the pictures from the card until I next need to use it though – just in case!

Step 3: Selecting and Basic Adjustment.

I power up Capture One Pro, which uses my single, standard “Session” as a default. I don’t have the discipline to tag all my photos, making a Catalogue quite redundant for me. Using this one Session means I don’t have to  “Import” the images or any such step – I can just navigate over to the newly created folder with images and go.

Stepping through the pictures chronologically, I can quickly identify the one’s I’ll probably keep. I do the basic adjustments at the same time (exposure, colour balance, cropping, and usually add some “Clarity”), then give it one “*” if I’m happy with it before quickly moving on to the next.

Most of my pictures are delivered in big batches, so this works OK. If there are any I come across that are candidate for some “special treatment” (like B&W, a print or whatever) I may give it two “**”, just to make them easier to find again.

I have on some occasions used the “Auto” feature to set the baseline exposure etc…, but this takes a while to do on all images, and while it sets up a close reference point, it really doesn’t speed me up much, I find.

Notice I didn’t mention “raw” or “JPEG”. I happen to use raw, because I get a lot more leeway in the adjustments (especially in dark areas where noise could become an issue, or in tungsten lighting conditions), but that’s a personal choice. The same method works for either in Capture One Pro.

Step 4: Output the images.

As I use raw format, the images need to be processed to make them into jpegs. The same is true for any jpeg images that have been adjusted (Capture One Pro uses non-destructive editing – it doesn’t touch the original file – so any edited image must be “processed” into a new file to make it available). For this I have a number of “pre-set” recipes that serve mostly to allow me to quickly create different pixel-count images for different needs. I also have some with a watermark pre-programmed. Each “recipe” saves its processed images in a clearly named folder, in the same folder as the images they came from. I do have a few special ones that saves them somewhere more centralised, for “one-off” edits, or those “special” images with two “**”, should I need them. These would also be the candidates for printing, of course.

For saving JPEG images, I have created recipes for different fairly standard needs. They set the image size (in pixels) and compression factor. These can be to fit a box 400pixels each side, to use as thumbnails, to fit a box 1080×1920 pixels (for an HD-sized computer screen), 1600 pixels longest side for “every day” use (including Viewfinders newsletter), or “100%” for full-resolution images. Oh, and one that fits a box 1400 x 1050 pixels, for projection at Viewfinders meetings! 😊

So, I select all the “*” images and activate the batch queue, with the recipes I want to use selected- Capture One Pro will process several recipes in parallel. Don’t go for a coffee yet, though, because it actually happens fairly fast. As the images all end up in a special folder, it’s then relatively easy for me to upload them to my web-site for delivery, send them in to the Newsletter (hint), or copy them to a USB stick. Or whatever.

For printing at home, I tend not to use Capture One Pro directly (except for sporadic contact sheets etc…). It needs a lot of hand-holding to get nice results, I find. Instead, I use a fairly basic photo manager, and stick to using the standard Canon drivers that came with the printer. I usually get very good results that way. For printing at a service lab, I use 100% size (maximum pixels) and 95% compression factor JPEG. Never had a problem!

Brand Loyalty

General Posted on Wed, April 24, 2019 21:06:35

I recently came across a Facebook discussion about an article on the Interwebs, that was effectively asking what features a specific brand should offer in order to increase its market share. The usual flurried mix of comical nonsense and useful insights followed 😊. This made me think about why it is that new brands (or existing brands toting new technologies) can sometimes have a hard time in this.

“Brand Loyalty” is something that indeed is an important factor, but its importance and reason for existing, at least in my opinion and experience, has little to do with the actual company, and a lot to do with the expectations and demands of the customer base. That customer base is in fact a very broad and very complex entity.

“Sony did it”, I hear you say. Indeed, but only after they acquired Minolta – a company with a long history and experience in the field. And a customer base that appreciated its products.

For full transparency, I am not a “Gear geek”. I happen to use Canon cameras and brand-related kit, because it met (for me) a certain set of requirements when I set out to make photography a source of income for myself. My business was based almost exclusively on “events” – mostly commercial things but also weddings. Though my original ‘choice’ of Canon was dictated many, many years ago by me receiving one as a gift, there were (and still are) several compelling reasons for me to stick with it.

  • Optics. Very expensive items that are probably the one most critical component in the work flow. I have a small collection of pro-grade lenses that together represent a significant financial investment that I could not really justify “doing over”.
  • Job-specific features. The “events” type of work puts great demands on the “camera response time”, often under low-light conditions. So, anything that contributes to “shutter delay” (like focus acquisition, …) is just “no”. The kit I have works well for this, and where it does not, I have learned to control its foibles well enough to get through. The requirements of other types of photography will most certainly be different, but equally imperative to the photographer.
  • Trust. As a small jobbing photographer, you are only ever as good as your last gig. When on a job, the kit must work. Other manufacturers undoubtedly also make good, reliable kit, but am I sufficiently familiar with them to trust a reputation on? (And yes, I do have duplicate kit when on a job, before anyone asks…). It takes a while to build up such a relationship.
  • User Interface. Over the years, one builds up a specific feeling for the tool – that is a camera – that you are using. Having to think twice about how to adjust this or that when on the job can mean you miss that critical shot, and in many cases the moment cannot be done over to let you capture it as needed (think “Wedding…”). The number of  variables here may be small in practice, but it means reprogramming an instinct, which for me takes time and energy I’d probably prefer applying elsewhere.

So, if a new brand or technology is going to tempt me away from my current kit, It would have to be sufficiently compelling to surmount these