Monday, October 20, 2008

Good Morning, Er' Afternoon Monday - Ziser Crashes Twice & Canon 18-200 IS Preview

Good Afternoon Everybody,
I know its a late post today, but boy, what a weekend! Saturday started out just fine. I met up with my team about 8:30 a.m. and we were on site by 9:00 a.m. The Bar Mitzvah shoot went smoothly and we got some really great images. I got several chances to put my borrowed Canon 18-200mm IS lens through it's paces and life was good. Heck, we even had about an hour to catch lunch before the next gig.

Ziser Crash #1
We arrived at the church slightly ahead of schedule, checked the lighting, the lay of the land, and potential exterior locations to shoot some of the groups. The bride looked beautiful, the groom happy, but a little nervous, but all continued to be right with the world. We got some more great shots before the wedding, the guests started arriving, and we were ready for the ceremony and life was still good.

The processional begins - Nicholas has it covered from the side and I take up a discrete center aisle position. Everything is still looking good. The bride and her dad line up and pause at the back of church, the music swells, and they begin their walk down the aisle - all is still good. I raise the camera to my eye and focus sharply on the bride and her father, shoot several images full length, close up, and several more as they pass close to me in my pew position.

Man, I'm stoked, great shots - things are really good. The bride and her dad pass, I give them a few more seconds, scoot past behind them to the opposite side of the church - it need to quickly, discreetly, and quietly make my way down the left aisle so I can meet them in front to get the shot of the dad presenting his daughter to the groom - thinks are still good.

I deftly negotiate the narrow pews, one camera around my neck, the other firmly in my right hand. I reach the end of the pew, make a quick right turn up the left aisle, and then realize that things are no longer good. In fact things have quickly gone BAD!

I feel myself losing balance starting to fall forward. I speed up my pace to try to recover my balance - now I realize that things are going to get really bad - I am on my way to the less that soft marble floor. CRASH!!! I go flying, glasses go flying, but cameras never touch the floor as I roll to the right before hitting the floor to protect the gear.

No stars, but lots of embarrassment - should I even mention the blood? Anyway, what next - easy answer - the show must go on! My assistant rushes to my side, I toss him the camera and tell him to start taking pictures.

Anyway, to make a long story shorter, I was body bruised and ego bruised, and once I was bandaged up with my "Blue Dolphin" band-aid, I was good as new. I wrapped the shoot with them, turned the rest of the shoot over to Nicholas and headed for the second half of my Bat Mitzvah coverage. Thankfully it was dark at the Bat Mitzvah so I didn't have to discuss my two golf ball knots around my right eye too often the rest of the evening.

On the way to Sunday morning services, I had mentioned to LaDawn that the day after a wedding, I always feel like a MACK truck ran over me. She was quick to add that this time it looked like one really did. I survived, we got some really beautiful images, and I'm already tweaking them in Lightroom. Please, no cards letters - just make all donations to the Better Balance For Aging Wedding Photographers Foundation;~)

Ziser Crash #2
And just when you think the worst is over, Murphy's Law takes another step into my life. I hit the computer Sunday morning, start downloading cards, and find out I just lost the main studio drive. It's a one tera-byte Lacie drive - looks like a trip to Micro Center after church. That's what happened - like they say - when you least expect it. Anyway, after 3 hours of formatting the new drive, 12 hours of copying the data from the backup drive, and 3 more hours of tweaking it so it would be ready to go for the staff on Monday, we are up and running again. (We will have to get something going here on hard drive reliability in the near future.) Hence, the very late post. But, hey, again the show must go on!

Canon's new 18-200mm IS lens Preview:
So what did I think of Canon's new 18-200mm IS lens? Well, I liked it pretty well. I was so anxious to see the results, between the Bat Mitzvah and wedding, I stopped back by the studio, popped the card in the computer, and gave a few of them a quick peek. Here are my quick first impressions.

1. The lens does just fine - actually really sharp for about all of the zoom range. I shot a few images of my client with the 18-200mm and also with my 24-105mm IS. I thought the images from both lens were plenty sharp. The following image cropped was at 50mm.
2. The lens' wide angle performance looked good too. I checked my "table" shots - 8 people around a table, and although the lens was set to 18mm, the groups were not so tight to be at the edge and were perfectly sharp. I did some scene setters too just as I was leaving about 11:30 p.m. I took a few shots of the country club entrance which reached from edge to edge of the frame. Again, things were just fine. The following image cropped was at 18mm.

3. At 200mm, I also thought the lens had respectable sharpness. I was comparing images between the 18-200mm and my 70-200 F2.8 IS lens and thought the images were reasonably close for balcony shots. Would I use it for family portraits? That would be a big negatory - aperture is not wide enough to give me the shallow depth of field I need. But that's like a big "who cares". What I loved about the lens was the ability it gave me to get my "reach out and touch somebody" candids at the party.

Too many photogs think wedding party candids are the wide angle "backs of heads" shots of people dancing. Sure, I take a few of those for picking up the overall party feel, but the real shots are the close-ups of the revelers really partying on. This lens is perfect for that. Just plant yourself on the band stand or DJ riser, search the crowd for the wildest party maniac and shoot away till you find some really great expressions. 200mm really makes it easy to zoom in and get the best expression. This image was taken at 185mm.
4. As with any wide to tele lens, it's been my preference to zoom to focus then pull back to frame the shot. I use center spot focus and want to be sure I'm in sharp focus before I press the shutter button. When I am more careful about my focus, I achieve much more consistent results.

5. Image stabilization works great. I sorted all the images made with the 18-200mm in Lightroom and looked at the image specs of most of the images. I was pleasantly surprised to see I had sharp images even at 1/6 and 1/10 second. I was a happy camper when I saw the low numbers.

You know as a wedding photographer, most of the "subject matter" does not go edge to edge so any sharpness fall off is of less concern for me. Also, I vignette nearly all my images in Lightroom anyway, so the vignetting that shows up in some test reports is of little concern to me. All in all, I LOVE one lens on my camera for most of the time. The bottom line is this - this focal length lets me work extremely fast and get shots I otherwise would or could miss if I was doing too many lens swaps. It also is a great lens for party candids - for this application, it is a "one size fits all" solution.

So where am I on the lens, I would have to say I'm pretty pleased with it. I want to "live with it a little longer, learning it's nuances and idiosyncrasies, but my first impression is that it will probably replace my 17-85mm IS lens as my primary P/J shooting lens. I get to hang out with the lens for another week or two so if anything new hits me, I'll post it here at DPT.

Hey gang, I've got a few more things to tell you about but I'm holding off till tomorrow. It's getting late around here and I have to catch up on some real work since the hard drive crash. Look for me back here tomorrow for another Technique Tuesday - Saving The Shot: Part 2. Have a great rest of the day and I'll see you tomorrow. Ol' "One Eye" Dave signing off.


  1. You are the most amazing professional I have ever seen. Everyone around you was suggesting a hospital and stitches and you barely had the ice to your eye for 15 min!
    That is dedication! Any one who chooses you can rest assured that they will get the best no matter what.

    "BLOOD ON THE CAMERA" (the show must go on) the new Ziser tour 2009!

  2. You were shooting most of that 15 min too!

  3. David, who says that weddings aren't a contact sport. Thanks for your wonderful blog and insight into photography (the good and not so good). I will be sending my check to the BBAWPF tomorrow. Feel better, heal quickly.

  4. Oh, David! Sorry to hear about your crashes. Sounds like both of them resulted in a minimum of damage, which is about as good as you can ask for.

  5. Oh my! What a weekend!
    The thing I keep wondering though is, from a professional point of view, which was worst, the HD crash or the Ziser one?!
    Well done on getting both sorted out so quickly!
    So glad you got it all under control and thanks for a great post!

  6. Great post again. I am really happy finding your blog. Great stories, I love the little nuggets sprinkled everywhere. The only negative is that I'm now looking into getting that lense. Thanks again.
    -Colby McLemore

  7. Man! I didn't know that you have the "Ziser's move" in Crash#1, which actually saved the camera & lens. You should be award with a Black Bell in kungfu dude! :)

    Thanks for sharing the wedding tips & story, but please don't do it (Ziser#1) again, because we all needed you, ok? :)


  8. Ouch, it hurts to look at! I hope it’s not too painful to hold a camera to your eye.

    What a nightmare. At least you didn’t plow into the cake table or bleed on the bride.

    You have my sympathy.

  9. David, Do you find the focus holds when you change the zoom? I had falls thirty years or more ago. Age has nothing to do with it.

  10. What is it about us photographers?
    Save the camera and lens, heck, the broken leg will eventually heal.
    Sorry, David. You do "bleed" for your profession. Thanks for showing us how.

  11. Perhaps it might be time for a hard drive with RAID redundancy? For most people I setup with workstations and their work is mission critical, I won't recommend anything less - plus the price of an external drive with built in RAID has gone down a LOT. I've liked the SimpleTech unit ( since it has just about any interface you want. Just something to think about.

  12. Can you tell us how your eye is doing?

    Vegas Bill

  13. I had the 18-200mm IS lens for about three weeks to preview - like you, I liked it fine. I even shot a bunch of frames at a college football game from the 24th row, and found that it focused fast enough for that action. To me, the only detriments were (a) lack of USM; and (b) it's an EF-S lens. A vacationer with a Rebel or a 40D would love it, though.

  14. The Pro's Instinct:
    Amazing how you instinctively saved your gear. Sorry about your eye. You've got me thinking about this lens though.

  15. David Ziser, ever the professional. Hope you're feeling better from your rodeo with gravity.