I get quite a few emails with questions about photography related stuff, from gear to technique. Below are a number of questions that photographers asked and my answer. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to send me an email directly!
I don’t know if you answer questions like these, so feel free to pass if this is not something that you do.
I am new to photography and my interests lie in landscape photography. I have had a Canon XTi for a number of years and recently upgraded to the Canon 6D. It came with the 24-105 L series lens and I’m contemplating purchasing either the16-35 or 17-40 L series lens so that I can have a wider angle. I watched your video comparing the 2 and now just have to decide which one to get!
My question more specifically is surrounding filters. I understand from reading a number of articles by a number of people that the 2 most important/useful filters for a landscape photographer are a polarizer and grad ND filters (in various stops.) I know that there are 2 types of filters, ones that screw on via threads and another which is an adapter which uses “slides” so to speak. I’m gathering that a lot of money can be spent on filters and as I am new to this, I’m trying to determine which route would be best for me and which filters I should get as I am just starting out. I’ve seen samples of different pictures using polarizers and I think that I like the look of a warming polarizer (samples I’ve seen are using the Singh-ray LB Warming Polarizer.) I note that Singh-ray filters are quite expensive and I’m not sure if you would have vignetting due to stacking threaded filters (i.e. warming polarizer and ND grad.)
I want to keep this message short, so I’ll cut it off there and ask for your thoughts/opinions on what you think might be best for me as I am just starting out. Can you make any recommendations? I live in Canada so some products are harder for me to find (for example, Singh-ray filters are only sold by 1 store located in Calgary and I live in Ontario.)
Hey Amanda, great questions!
Regarding the 16-35mm F4 vs. the Canon 17-40 for your Canon 6D for landscape photography: If you’re just getting into landscape photography get the Canon 17-40. It’s a fantastic lens, and resolves almost as sharp as the 16-35 F4. Plus, now that the 16-35 F4 came out, the resale value of the 17-40 is lower than it was before, so you can get it for a great price. Get it used, and if after a year you love it consider the 16-35 F4.
For essential filters for landscape photography: One of the issues with landscape photograph and exposure is that our cameras have a dynamic range of 12 to 14, whereas a sunset or sunrise scene is typically in the 20-24 range. That simply means the sensor can’t handle the extreme brightness values. To overcome this Graduated Neutral Density filters are the answer.
There are two sizes for Graduated Neutral Density filters: 84mm (aka P size) and 100mm (aka Z size) with 84mm being for cropped sensors, and 100mm being for full-frame sensors.
Here are my two suggestions for essential filters:
Using these two filters in conjunction with each other will allow you to begin getting proper long exposures in-camera, which is where a lot of the fun in landscape photography is.
Hopefully that helps!
I love your reviews and really appreciate your information and sharing of your knowledge !!
I just ordered Canon’s 7D Mark II , with Canon’s EF 24-105 f/4 L IS USM and EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS USM lens. After I placed my order I watched your recent review on the 16-35 f4 is USM . Must say you have amazing photos !! I aspire someday to be at your level !
My question is , after the review I feel like I made have made a mistake with my lens choices.
What’s your thoughts ? I plan on shooting landscape photos and wildlife , etc. 6D, next on my list!
Thank you for your time !
I think the 24-105 is great, however my 70-200mm F4 L resolves sharper than my 2.8, and its quite a bit lighter.
Wonderful report on the 16-35 f4 IS. My head was spinning on how tight your information was packed together. (Good thing!) Since you seem to have no aversion to technical detail, I have a burning question… In regards to IS (stabilization), at what shutter speed does IS become a moot point? Let’s say the camera IS works at 1/1,000th of a second… shutter speeds of 1/200th are greatly enhanced by having IS-ON. On the other hand, if shooting at 1/1,600th of a second, I am guessing that a) IS could induce vibration, or b) computational speed is is stolen from other functions like focus. No problem if you don’t have an answer… if I was Canon, I would not let that information become a discussion point. Jay
At longer exposures, beyond 5 seconds or so, having IS on would cause drift in the image so it’s best to have it off. But at all other shutter speeds I’d have it on if handheld. I wouldn’t worry about potential vibration from the IS motor.
Hi, I just came across your video review of the Canon 6D. You mentioned that you were able to get prints as large as 40×60. When I do my calculations, I am only able to get a print size of 12 x 20 (240 dpi). What process/setttings/dpi do you use to get an output of of 40×60 without loosing image quality. Thanks do much for your help! Arthur
I’ve printed at 40×60 a number of times with the Canon 6D and it prints out at this size great. I’d ignore the numbers and just do a few prints to test it out. The sharpness you get will depend more on the lens you use than the sensor, from my experience.
Many thanks for the review on the Canon EOS 6d. For me the weight saving vs the 5d MkIII is important. To take the weight issue further, would there be any sense in buying the new Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM ? It is quite a bit lighter than the Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM that is one of the kit choices. Regards,
I’d recommend getting the L glass over the non-L glass. It’s simply sharper and has better build quality. For landscape photography I’d always go for image quality over weight savings when presented the chance.
Hi Graham This is Ricky, i just start learning how to shoot and really like your works and all the videos. I bought my first camera last month (6d), and come with the kit lens (24-105), i am really interesting shooting landscape and wanna get suitable lenses. I read your review about new 16-35, which is really great review. What else do you suggest? Lets say if i only own three lenses, what are these? I probably shoot 60% landscape(day and night), 20% street, and 20% portrait. The budget around 2000 dollars for all these three lenses. Thank you very much
Hi Graham, I’m having a bit of a dilemma, Sony A7R, A7S, or keep my 5D Mark II setup and wait. I just have the 24-105L and mostly rent EF lenses based on need. What to do!? I love shooting landscapes, I do also shoot a lot of video, and some event stuff too, where low light of the S would come in handy, but the 12 MP of the A7S won’t really work well for print… The main reason I want to upgrade is because I would like something smaller to take with me more places. Let’s be honest the 5D is a bit of a beast. I also think its time to get some new features (like wifi, 50 ISO, 36MP) I often find i never post any photos or do anything with them because the process of managing photos often gets in the way. With wifi I could be up on Instagram/flikr or whatever almost instantly. Any advice for my lost soul?? Thanks man! Happy shooting,
For landscape and travel photography the A7R is not up to the task. It’s more device-like and less equipment like, if that makes sense. Stick with the Canon 5D Mark II for now, and wait to see what develops with Sony’s new line of cameras. The A7 II just was released, but not an A7R version, so perhaps it’s just around the corner.
Hi Graham, Came across your site tonight while looking at Canon 6D reviews. Really inspiring work. Wanted to see if you had any tripod recommendations for landscape photography. Something that’s sturdy enough to do long exposures but is portable enough to take to a remote location. What do you use? Thanks!
Carbon fiber tripods are eventually where you want to be, but if you don’t have any solid tripod yet I’d get the Manfrotto 190XB. It’s under $200, its’ aluminum and I use it 100% of the time when shooting in sand or on the coast where I’m near my car. It’s nice to not have to worry about sand and salt water messing up the joints on my carbon tripods.
Hi Graham I prefer using manual mode with my Canon 6D for landscape. Which mode do you prefer?
I use Aperture priority nearly all the time until I go past 30 seconds, at which point I use Bulb mode, which is essentially Aperture priority allowing you to keep the shutter down for a desired interval.
Dear Graham I’d appreciate any thought of yours on some of my dilemmas (if not all of them lol). But first, let me say that i admire your landscape works very very much. Especially works where you have used long exposure time. Well, I don’t own (yet) 6D but had brief time with that remarkable camera just few days ago in local retailer shop. Few pics I shot there had none of artistic virtue but just have given to me some ideas how this camera works and what it is capable of (sharpness, color rendition…). You see, I am the one who is trying to live off the consumers grid or better say techno geek grid. It means that i still use my medium format cameras and even 35mm film cameras. So far i have purchased only the Nikon D70s (shutter count < 10k) and D7000 (shutter count < 1.5k). The purpose was family and tourist photography. Even that could not separate me from my trusty film cameras hence these low shutter counts. D7k was huge disappointment. One lens or another, 4 AF, 3MF Ai, 1 50 H pre Ai, could not produce desireable result in sharpness and rendition. Only recently I have discovered that ‘backfocus issue’. Being film oriented guy I never thought of that, didn’t even consider the possibility of something like that, silly me? Anyway that is easy fix with fine tune AF possibility. But…we are talking of Nikon, Nippon Kogaku…or else. Who could believe in that major screwing up? Then I learned of D600 spot and oil issue. What would be the next surprise? And I just hoped for the trusty FX Nikon body to replace my heavy, clunky medium format cameras from Europe and Japan. To set me free from the need to ship my unprocessed Velvias to unreliable domestic shops or to ship them abroad (mostly Germany). Oh yes, that FX body should be small and lightweight enough. Then started to browse and browse pages and sites with pictures produced in FX Nikon bodies along with pictures emerging from my DX bodies. Color rendition didn’t seem ‘right too’. At least not without substantial postprocessing which i hate so much. I strongly believe in ‘traditional’ postprocess from the age of chemical photography along with some sharpening. It seems to me that workflow like this simply is not possible with Nikon? Then again, I recalled the ancient age of chemical photography and have compared my old old works in transparencies produced in F3, FE2, F2 with Nikkors with transparencies out of Canon A1, AE1 program, or older with Canon FD ssc and sc lenses (with silver breechlock…you may adore it or hate it). Trying to be unbiased…seems to me that Canon always had better rendition (if one assume we are talking of same emulsions in this comparison)? Even when that issue was affected by lens only? If we analyze crucial factors which affects the technical quality, we could say that there are 3 of them: 1. Lens. 2. Shutter. 3. Film. We were forced to head in digital direction because of our insatiable desire to see results INSTANTLY. With postprocess it comes just more instantly than in film era. Ok, we don’t have films in digital. Instead we have sensor, CPU and algorythms to conduct processing. The sensor itself is not the electronic anologue to the film. These millions of tiny ‘buckets’ named pixels pushed the development of so called ‘digital lenses’, more complex and optically more difficult and more expensive for production. CPU, sensor resolution and algorythms are our time anologues of fine grain developer, laboratory conditions etc. In my opinion Canon did their homework better or more sincere than ‘other guys’. Prologue was quite the long one. And you are the only guy as I know who had opportunity to shoot with both major systems, Nikon and Canon. Not only that…within one system you are shooting (or I have misunderstood) with bodies separated by eons in terms of electronic and IT terms. Also you are the one from just a few photographers whose ideas of postprocessing are matching my ideas. Me…just sit on the fence, without enough information. My dilemmas: Stay with Nikon and find the use for my fine MF lenses on FX digital body? Stay with Nikon and use it for monochrome or B&W works only, get Canon for everything else? Or… Keep my present Nikon gear for sentimental reason (not the digital stuff) and convert to Canon because they have better processors and perhaps sensors? Since I have been into photography last 40 or 42 years I belong to ‘old dawgs’ (not dogs lol). I got used in purchase long lasting or life time equipment. Just trying to be insensitive for ‘marketing pitch. Today I can’t see that is possible. I am really interested to learn of your experience…You are using 6d…ok. What happens with 5D? Collecting dust or has use in your workflow today? This was not systematically written and certainly is sooooooo long text but I’d really appreciate your thoughts and answers. Regards
I use three cameras:
I like using two systems with one set of lenses. Just go for the 6D and focus on the lenses, as the camera bodies change all too frequently with little change between them.
Hello Graham, I am impressed with your moon light image in the Great Basin. On your new work page. My question is how did you get the exposure for the lake and the terrain correct? What was the aperture and exposure time? Also, thank you for the in depth review of the 6d, I am planning on upgrading my 40d to one shortly. Thanks,
For that photograph I shot two exposures, one very long exposure and one very short exposure. The longer exposure had better light on the distant mountain from the moonlight.
Exposure settings: 901 seconds, F8, ISO 400 at 20mm
Hi Graham, I recently came across your website and was very impressed to read about your trips and also the fact that you use a canon 6d. I have always been an ethusuastic photographer and recently I purchased canon 6d after a lot of research. The reason I ended up choosing this one is not only because it produces great quality photos, but it’s light and compact. I will be going travel around the world for a year from December and I would like advice on what lens is appropriate for landscape photography. I currently have the 24-105mm which is a great all round standard lens. Thanks in advance and I look forward to hearing your recommendations.
For that kind of trip I’d stick with only the 24-105 F4. If I had to recommend a second it would be a 50mm 1.8.
Hi Graham Stumbled upon your website and work through YouTube. Just wanted to say your work and videos are great. I just finished watching your video on achieving critical sharpness in your images. This is a great video because as an amateur landscape guy I have struggled at times with this in the past. I understand the technique described in your video, but still had one question. Where in the frame/scene do you typically use this technique to focus to achieve critical sharpness from front to back in the whole scene? Some say use the rule of thumb of picking something about 1/3 of the way into the frame, but I wanted to get your take. Thanks a lot!
It depends on what F-nubmer you’re using, but if you’re using F16 I’d set your focus area to your closest primary subject.
Hi Graham I first found your work after searching a Canon 6D review on Youtube. Great review by the way! My passion in photography is Landscape and Portrait work. I’ve been searching for a camera for about 6 months, I’ve previously owned a Nikon D700, Canon 5D Markii, Olympus OMD, and a Fuji X-Pro1. I enjoyed the Canon the most thus far. I find the Nikon menus more complicated than necessary and find the Canon menus to have a more ‘user-friendly’, or common sense approach. I’m presently in the market for a new camera and I’ve been debating between the Canon and the Sony a7. I’m not interested in the ‘R’ addition as I’m not financially ready to upgrade computers right now. I do all my processing presently on a Macbook Pro (couple yrs old) and Lightroom 5. I find the 20 megapixel ballpark to be sufficient for what I do. I’m very interested in the weight savings these two cameras offer (hence my OMD and Xpro experiences). I know the 6D has a rather ‘weak’ focus system suffice to say the -3EV centre dot but the dots also don’t extend very far to the left or right which forces the ‘focus recompose’ method. Is the Sony better in this area? I should point out most of my portrait work is in natural light or with a small amount of added light from my Icelight. Not a studio shooter, never will be. I understand your experience with the Sony should have logged more hours from the last video presented and I’m interested in how these two cameras compare for Landscape and Portrait work. What would be your recommendation? I work in rural areas and not able to try either of these cameras in-store, which in my mind does not make up for handling experience. I love your work, and congratulations on your more recent publishings and ‘professional’ recognitions. I share the dream you had of travel and photography study, and I hope someday I can travel and realize my dream of escaping with my camera and pushing my work to the next level. Again Congratulations and any info you can give me to help me in this decision would be much appreciated.
The A7R is great however for durability and a few other things it’s not quite up to par with the Canon. Not even close. So if you’re just doing casual landscape photography the A7R would be great, and it allows you to use many lens systems so you’re not locked in. But the Canon 6D or 5D3 is currently the all around winner with regards to durability, which is important in landscape photography.
Just read your article of you testing the Canon 6D, very well done and I especially like hands on type reviews. Was some what apprehensive from other reviews but not now. So just ordered one. But do have two questions 1 what would you recommend for a bag for day hiking and 2 also your choice of a tripod. I’am a older guy and like to carry rain gear and three lens and body. Have the 16-35 ll and 24-70 ll and 105 f2.8 IS macro. The 6D will be the body.Also carry ND filters and polarizing filters. Again great site and keep up the good work. Thanks,
I don’t use camera bags as they’re bulky and have poor designs. Instead I like using climbing backpacks with camera wraps.
As for a small tripod, I’d get a Gitzo Traveler.
Also, if you’re interested in weight saving consider getting rid of your 16-35 2.8 II and get a 17-40, or a 16-35 F4
Hi Mr. Clark, I recently found your 6D review video on work and it has changed my mind completely. I was about to pull the trigger on a 5Dm3 but seeing your pictures, hearing you talk about the camera and giving a real objective review of the camera made me realize how silly blowing all my money on the 5D body was. I plan on picking up a 6D now and hopefully capturing some images similar to yours. I just traveled through Bryce and Zion recently but couldn’t capture the colors and the light the same way you have. Are you using any filters or other gear to capture such vibrant reds and purples or was the light simply that vibrant when you were there. Any tips or tricks? Thanks so much,
Here are the filters I use 90% of the time:
I use them all in conjunction with each other. To get good colors in-camera you must get the dynamic range right in-camera, otherwise the colors are lost as the color gradients are very delicate and easy to destroy with just one or two stops of overexposure, which is all too easy during sunrise and sunset.
Thanks for your great website. I have learned so much from your videos. I have a question. I read your recent comments on the Canon 6D. It sounds like a great camera for what I like to do. My question is: Do you think it is worth the extra money to buy the kit that includes an L lens versus just buying the body only. I think I read somewhere that a lot of people were not impressed with the build of the lens. Even though it is labeled L it didn’t seem to measure up to the standard expected of the L designation. Thanks again for your great videos and website.
The Canon 24-70 F4 and 24-105 F4 that come as kit lenses are great. I rarely use mine as I’m primarily using the 16-35 F4, but as general purpose lenses those two are great and I’d get them for sure.
Hi Graham, I’ve recently upgraded from a crop camera to a canon 6d. Your 6d review was very helpful. I’m currently looking for advice on ND filters for the 6d. I’d like to buy a good performing filter set “once”. Does the 6d’s IR/low pass filter adequately block IR light when using a multiple-stop ND filter (30+sec exposure) or do you see color casting? Have you found a particular brand of ND filter that produces minimal casting when stacking 2 ND filters on the 6d? (Cokin,Kood,Hitech,Lee, etc). I use an EF 17-40mm f4 L lens for most of my Salt Lake City area landscape photos. My main concern is ruining my “light path” with ND filters given the cash invested in camera and lens. Thank you for any experience you share. Thank you,
The performance of an ND filter can be roughly measured by amount of color cast. Magenta and cool blue are common among cheaper ND filters, and even quite a few of the most expensive ones are of poor quality despite their high price tag.
Check out the X3 ND filter – I designed and manufactured it to be the most color neutral ND filter: http://breakthrough.photography/product/x3-neutral-density/
Hey Graham, Just wanted to ask how you liked the zeiss 50mm. Knowing you shoot landscapes I know you want the best possible quality from a lens. Right now I have the canon 50mm 1.4 and I didn’t know if it would be worth the upgrade. By the way I was deciding if I should upgrade to a 6d from my 5d2 and I bought one right after watching your review. Keep up the great work!
I like the build quality however the image quality is just as good or worse when compared to the 1970 Canon FD 50mm 1.8 that I bought a few weeks ago for $20 in San Francisco. The idea that the ‘Zeiss’ name produces superior products doesn’t always pan out when compared to 50 year old lenses, much to my surprise.
Hi just seen your review i am planning to change from my 60D to the 6D, the main reason is to get the gps location as I travel around. My question is does the GPS work on the mac iPhoto so I have a visual of where I have been. Hope this is not too silly a question but I’m 75 now and it would be very useful be able to pinpoint all my pics in iPhoto. Thanks for a great review I am convinced but just want this answered, I only ask you because I heard you say download to your mac in the wifi section
Yes, it works on iPhoto!
have you been able \i have the 6D (got it after my 5D3 was stolen). i like it a lot. i don’t understand 2 limitations which canon introduced on purpose… i have encountered two issues which lower the day-to-day use photographers get from it. I understand the need to position it ‘under’ the 5D3, but the following will make people only annoyed at canon, without ever deciding not the get the 6D over the 5D3 on the basis that it is much less expensive. a) not giving me the option to save the THREE original images when shooting HDRs as the 5D3 does. I learned to use the function on the 5D3 to my ‘workflow advantage’ and it seems odd that the 6D doesn’t offer that option. I can only store the HDR result, not the 3 images that made the basis for the HDR. why? b) even more annoying: I have the canon 2x extender for my 70-200mm lens. I was very pleased with it on the 5D3. autofocus seems not to be supported by the 6D. why make this decision, canon? if people have AF on the 6D you will sell more extenders, simple as that. why disable that functionality in the 6D firmware??? so, my questions will end in one: as you keep on top of these thing, is a firmware update coming soon to address these issues? or do you know of any other away to get around these limitations btw: you insipired me to go back to national parks in the US west to shoot there again. GREAT GREAT photos you have cheers
I’ve never used the HDR function on the camera, so I’m not sure how this compares. The sensor is the same in both cameras, and I don’t use autofocus typically, so it all depends on what you do.
If you shoot fast moving subjects, get the 5D3. Or, get both and sell off the one you like least! :)
Hi Graham. What a talented photographer you are. I loved browsing your galleries. You mentioned that you like to do everything straight in camera. I was wondering about your star trails. Did you stack the photos or did you do one long exposure? Keep un the great work, and perhaps one day you will visit our national parks in South Africa. Regards
For star trails I typically do two image sequences:
I then stack the star trail images into one frame, and once I have that I stack the star trail sequence with the twilight sequence.
Another way to think about this is like film transparencies: If you stack the transparencies on an overhead projector you’ll get the same effect. So photoshop is used to simply do that – stack the images on top of each other.
No adjustments are required to be made in order to get a proper star trail sequence.
Hi Graham – I purchased a Canon EOS 6D and 17-40mm lens today after shooting with a 550D and Tokina 11-16mm lens for the past couple of years. 99% of what I shoot is landscape / seascape. Your shots are the some of the best I have seen on the web! I shoot with Lee ND Grad Filters and also use a Lee Big Stopper from time to time. My questions: 1. What is your normal setup for your 6D when you head out to shoot landscapes? 2. I notice that you often shoot at ISO 50 – I am going to do the same (because you do it), but just to be clear, is there a big advantage to ISO 50 v ISO 100? Thanks (for the coming answers and for the inspiration)!!!
ISO 50 on a Canon camera is actually ISO 100 pulled down. I have found the highlight headroom to be the same, however there is no advantage with regards to noise quality. The reason I use ISO 50 is simply to push out the exposure longer. I’m typically using a 6-stop ND filter with GND’s stacked on the front, trying to go for the longest exposure possible with this setup, so ISO 50 just pushes it out a little further.
In short: there’s no image quality advantage (or disadvantage), only a long exposure advantage.
I just read your review of the Canon 6D. for the past three years I have been using a Canon 7D with a 24-105L. This camera has been great for most of my needs. However, now I have considered going to full frame cameras because they seem to perform better under low light conditions. I spend a lot of time taking pictures of family indoors and sometimes in the evening. This means I use flash and it washes out colors. Will the 6D assist me in taking pictures in low light situations? Or should I put money into L lenses that are faster? It seems there are pros and cons to either. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
The lens will outlast many cameras, so put your money there without hesitation. The differences in camera bodies is small, despite the marketing which would have you believe otherwise.