Canon RF800/11 lens for eclipse totality

The Canon mirrorless 800/11 lens is light enough to pack for Eclipse 2026 in Spain (or Iceland if you feel extremely lucky with the weather).

How well does it work for photographing totality? The magnification seems about right for photographing the full corona. Here is the entire JPEG out of the camera at 1/250th of a second and ISO 400 (no need to spec the aperture because it is always f/11):

With an exposure of 1/13 of a second, the corona gets quite a bit larger:

The camera was set to autofocus and fixed at ISO 400. It was mounted on a cheap light Slik ballhead tripod that I happened to have available in Boston (we flew from KBED to KHUL (Houlton, Maine, the last stop in the U.S. for Eclipse 2024) and these pictures were taken from the ramp at KHUL).

It’s tough enough to aim at 800mm and I certainly wouldn’t want any higher magnification without a star-tracker camera mount.

I’m generally negative on trying to photograph the eclipse. The great images are nearly all stitched together laboriously in Photoshop based on multiple exposures, e.g., one long enough to capture some details in the moon itself and the farthest reaches of the corona and some short enough to show detail in the corona right near the surface of the sun. It’s better to leave the documenting to the nerds with infinite Photoshop patience and bulky equipment and park yourself with a great pair of binoculars to simply enjoy the show.

Here’s a Photoshop special from NASA in 2017 that looks great but bears almost no resemblance to what you can see with your eyes or with a camera in a single image:

Here’s the ultimate example of the “f/8 and be there” principle of photography (an experienced photographer’s technical-sounding advice to a beginner):

Kendall Rust (Facebook post) says she took it in Jonesboro, Arkansas and that this is straight out of the Canon camera, though it looks like a Photoshop wizard created it! CNN shows a remarkably similar image and credits it to Bobby Goddin:

Here’s yet another:

Unless you’re Kendall Rust, Jack Emshwiller, or Bobby Goddin, though, I’m going to stick with the “just enjoy totality” advice and take some images of things that happen around you just before and after totality. (What if you are Kendall Rust, Jack Emshwiller, or Bobby Goddin? My advice is that you abandon your hatred of government-created inequality and load up on Powerball tickets the next time the jackpot reaches $1 billion!) Here’s a quick iPhone picture of the pseudo sunset:

But if you’re going to ignore my advice, the Canon 800/11 seems like a great choice! It’s cheap, light, and does the job pretty well.


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The film flame is alive in Holland

For the old and nostalgic, or the merely old at heart, Fotohandel Delfshaven in the Netherlands (they’ve moved to downtown Delft, actually) is a great destination. There’s a gallery/showroom downstairs and a team of guys upstairs who try to get everything back to working condition. The store also sells some broken cameras for those who just want to decorate a bookshelf. They sell film and arrange processing:

The front of the shop contains an early smartphone camera prototype:

If you were inspired by astronaut Tom Hanks’s bravery in going to the moon on Apollo 13, why not buy a prototype of the electric Hasselblad that Hanks would have used if not for the unfortunate oxygen tank explosion?

What’s inside a ‘Blad?

For maximum taste and subtlety points, a gold-plated Leica:

I prefer the red Rolleiflex:

You don’t have to be rich to come away with a working film camera. $250-500 should suffice for a high-quality restored example. If you adjust 1960s or 1970s prices to Bidies, you’re actually paying far less for one of these cameras than it cost new.

Delft is a great town and I highly recommend a visit to Fotohandel Delfshaven (or come over to our house and I’ll pull a subset collection out of the closet!).

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60th anniversary of Mercury 8, with Hasselblad camera on board

Today is the 60th anniversary of the Mercury 8 mission, which orbited the Earth six times while photos were made with a Hasselblad camera. A good time to remind iPhone owners what a camera used to look like! From the Hasselblad Manual by Wildi:

Loading the film is as simple as using Instagram:


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What’s interesting about the iPhone 14 for photographers?

Apple released some new products today. Who is excited about them and why?

Aside from being able to talk on the phone, check email, and receive text messages, my main interest in a mobile phone is the camera capability.

“Apple’s iPhone 14 and 14 Pro: Imaging tech examined” (DPReview):

The Pro models gain larger sensors for their main cameras, jumping from 12MP Type 1/1.7 (7.5×5.7mm) to 48MP Type 1/1.28 (9.8×7.3mm) quad-pixel chips. The aperture is reduced from F1.5 to F1.79 but this is brighter in equivalent terms than before: the sensor is nearly twice the size, which more than makes up for the ~0.3EV slower F-number.

The camera will primarily deliver 12MP images by combining quartets of pixels to give the 2.44μm pixels discussed in Apple’s presentation, but can also deliver 48MP ProRaw files, from the individual 1.22μm photosites.

There’s a larger sensor, too for the non-Pro iPhone 14 and 14 Plus. These receive main cameras with comparable specs to those in last year’s iPhone 13 Pro. Specifically this means 12MP Type 1/1.7 (7.6×5.7mm)

My dream is a chunky phone with a Four Thirds System sensor (17x13mm). The iPhone 14 Pro models are thus approximately one third of the way to my dream, as measured by sensor area.

When would this matter? Here’s an iPhone 13 Pro evening photo from one of the new waterfront neighborhoods of Oslo:

If you download this and zoom in you’ll see how fuzzy the faces are. That’s the limit of what clever hardware and software can do to try to patch up the deficiencies caused by using a tiny sensor in low light.

Compare to this image taken at 2 pm (daylight savings time):

Readers: Aside from this sensor size increase, which is simply catch-up to the better Android phones, what is new and interesting from Apple?


  • “Apple’s iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus Bring Enhanced Cameras” (PetaPixel): “The dual-camera system upgrades and features on the iPhone 14 include a new Main camera with a larger ƒ/1.5 aperture and 1.9 µm pixels, enabling photo and video improvements in all lighting scenarios for better detail and motion freezing, less noise, faster exposure times, and sensor-shift optical image stabilization. … There is a new Action mode for smooth-looking video that adjusts to significant shakes, motion, and vibrations, including when video is being captured in the middle of the action.”
  • speaking of Android, the co-creator Andy Rubin provides a good example of the risks of being married in California; from the Daily Mail: Former Google exec who ‘got $90M severance’ amid sexual coercion probe ‘ran sex ring which lent out women he paid to own for orgies and filmed them,’ claims estranged wife … Andy Rubin is being sued by his estranged wife Rie, who seeks to have the couple’s prenuptial agreement voided in a complaint unsealed on Tuesday … ‘This is a family law dispute involving a wife who regrets her decision to execute a prenuptial agreement,’ said Rubin’s lawyer, adding suit is full of ‘false claims’ … Rie, who is also seeking a divorce from Rubin in family court, is demanding a jury trial and asking that the prenuptial agreement she signed be voided, thus allowing her to collect on the $350 million her estranged husband earned during their marriage.
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How to use a television as a digital picture frame? (2022 edition)

From 2012, Best LCD television for use as a digital photo display?:

  • must be programmable so that it comes on in “photo display” mode so that there is no need to monkey with a remote control after a power failure (or maybe default to photo display mode if a USB stick is plugged in); I have found the deep menus of modern HDTVs to be truly painful
  • must be programmable to shut itself off at midnight, for example, and back on at 8 am (to save power)
  • must be daylight-viewable (means LCD is better than plasma?)
  • must have low power consumption (implies LED-lit)?
  • [2022 addition] keep each image up for at least a few minutes

From 2010, Why don’t people use a small TV as a digital picture frame?

From 2014, Can Google Chromecast do a simple slide show?

What’s the answer to these questions today? I talked to some A/V installers who charge over $100,000 for a typical home setup and they couldn’t think of any way to have a TV turn itself on at the same time every day and start showing images of the consumer’s choice. Their only idea was the LG Gallery TV, but I think that is designed to show art and images from LG’s servers, not your own USB stick or local NAS share. Also, supposedly it is impossible to change the settings for transitioning from image to image, including both effects and timing.

I looked at the manual for the latest and great “Evo” LG OLED TV. It seems to have the same limitations as when I looked at Samsung and LG 10 years ago. The TV can turn itself on at the same time every day and tune to a particular channel or display a particular HDMI input.

(i.e., if you had a dongle that continuously went through the contents of a USB stick and turned it into 4K video, the TV could be programmed to show it)

How about the $4,300 Samsung “The Frame” TV? It doesn’t have an “on timer”, only an “off timer.” (But in theory it can turn itself on automatically via a motion detector?) It sounds as though displaying your own pictures can be done, but via a tedious importation process of one image at a time.

How about a $7,000 Sony 8K Mini LED TV that isn’t even available yet? The web-based manual suggests that it offers the same features as LG, i.e., to turn on and tune to a channel or input.

Since the TVs won’t do this for the $thousands that have been handled over by consumers, what about the dongle feeding an HDMI input idea? A December 2020 article on the subject says the dongles are called “media players” and describes the “Micca” product line, but these are limited to a feeble 1080p. The Amazon Fire TV stick might be able to do it with a cheap app that pulls images from Flickr. It will generate a 4K signal. China comes to the rescue with Rikomagic’s mini PCs and Android devices, sometimes with various apps, e.g., that can pull from Dropbox. All of Rikomagic’s products seem to have 4K HDMI output. I can already feel the pain of more devices to maintain, though, and also see this getting stuck and having to be rebooted. Not to mention lots of extra wires and periodic removal of the TV from the wall to get to the dongle, etc.

At this point, you’re thinking “Of course, the TVs can’t do this because who besides a handful of digital SLR nerds would ever want this?” In fact, however, a huge number of TVs are purchased for this exact role… in-store advertising, a.k.a., “digital signage.” Because, apparently, you can’t plug in a USB stick and have the TV do the rest, there are a lot of vendors happy to sell you the few lines of software that Samsung, LG, and Sony left out. Rise Vision is an example and it seems to be priced at about $120 per year per TV (i.e., over the life of a mid-priced mid-sized TV, more will be paid to Rise Vision than to the TV manufacturer).


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Photography suggestions from the Google

If you remembered to put your Canon mirrorless system in the back of the Rolls Royce for the trip to the Bal Harbour mall, here’s the Google Maps suggestion for where to stop and take pictures… Haulover Nude Beach (note camera icon pin):

From February 24, 2020 (from the same date… “Nancy Pelosi Visits San Francisco’s Chinatown Amid Coronavirus Concerns” (NBC): She said there’s no reason tourists or locals should be staying away from the area because of coronavirus concerns. “That’s what we’re trying to do today is to say everything is fine here,” Pelosi said. “Come because precautions have been taken. The city is on top of the situation.”), at the Bal Harbour Shops:

The red vehicle at top left is a Ferrari Enzo, available as a 20-year-old used car for about $3.5 million.

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Canon RF 800/11 lens for air shows

Stuart, Florida has a small annual air show that proved to be a good opportunity to test the new Canon mirrorless religion against some of America’s greatest aerobatic pilots and military hardware that awes everyone except our enemies. I brought a Canon R5 body and the 800/11 lens (lightweight inexpensive ($900) lens optimized for long walks in search of birds) to the event, setting up at Atlantic Aviation’s barbecue on the south side of the field, which is where you might be if you flew into the event. Most of the spectators are on the north side of the field and therefore would have had the sun in the background of many images.

Perhaps partly due to the fact that we were usually a little farther from the planes than the main crowd, magnification was about right for a lot of the solo planes. A longer lens would not have been welcome as it was already tough to find moving aircraft in the sky with the lens after first locating them with the unaided eyes. A 600mm lens (on a full-frame camera) is probably better if you’re in a more standard position and then a zoom lens covering 200-400mm for formations and big aircraft (e.g., Boeing 737 and larger).

All of the pictures had the wrong timestamp. A $4,000 camera with WiFi and Bluetooth cannot set its own clock, time zone, or Daylight Savings Time status, unlike the $29+ that we’re accustomed to purchasing for our houses and pockets. (Every photo off by one hour because I hadn’t gone deep into the menus to turn off DST)

Battery life on the R5 was just about perfect for this project, which resulted in 911 pictures and a couple of minutes of video. The battery was at 30 percent at the end of the 5-hour project.

I’m a raw beginner with this body, so my configuration was very simple: servo autofocus (defaults on the zones and other modes), high-speed drive (8 frames/second; not the 12 fps “H+” mode); shutter-priority autoexposure (the lens is at a fixed f/11, so the camera will adjust ISO based on the scene brightness) at 1/1600th to 1/2500th depending on the aircraft speed. No monopod or tripod (i.e., handheld and rely on in-body and in-lens image stabilization). Some of the images below are cropped, but not are post-processed for exposure or in any other way besides downsizing to 4k resolution (3,840 pixels wide) in the remnants of Google Picasa.

So that you don’t give up on this post, a successful slightly cropped F-16 image, the demo team (pilot: Garret Schmitz) showing the taxpayers a thrust-to-weight greater than 1:

Some jumpers who wouldn’t have registered on a shorter lens:

A heritage formation (F-22, P-51 Mustangs, F-16) that fit:

The AeroShell Aerobatic Team (showing just how loud the AT-6 can be):

The last image is uncropped and included to demonstrate how well the EOS R5 does with exposure in a tough situation (white clouds surrounding the subject plus a lot of white on the subject itself; Black Subjects Matter and white subjects might matter to some, but cameras work best when the scene is 18 percent grey).

A little Decathlon that would have gotten lost with a shorter lens:

Max is mad, but not as mad as if he’d had to carry a 14 lb. lens that came in its own suitcase:

An appropriate magnification for the A-10:

If you enjoyed our video regarding the F-22 flight controls and/or you simply love being a taxpayer ($350 million per F-22?):

Big lens+Big airplane (C-17) do not mix well:

On the other hand, the magnification was perfect for the aerobatic Bo 105:

Here’s an example of where a 600mm lens would have made life easier:

But, on the other hand, shouldn’t one expect to throw out 95 percent of images taken of subjects moving at 500+ mph?

The Shockwave Jet truck racing Rob Holland (lens too long at the same time that our position was too far away):

Matt Younkin showing off in a Beech 18:

Department of It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time:

Since Thanksgiving is coming up, some things to be thankful for… (we can enjoy looking at the moon; we’re not a helicopter’s external load)

Does the lens make sense for air shows? I think so! If you’re not covering the air show professionally you don’t need to get a great picture of every aircraft. This lens will give you some interesting pictures that few non-professionals are likely to get. The EOS R5 is a champ when it comes to autofocus!


  • the USAF Thunderbirds (2018 images of practice before an event in Maskachusetts, Canon 200-400L with 1.4X teleconverter for many images)
  • some other snapshots (from the 2018 Maskachusetts air show)
  • Oshkosh Air Show Highlights (just a text discussion; I wasn’t strong enough to schlep my huge lenses and we didn’t have space/weight in the airplane)
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Google Pixel 6 Pro versus iPhone 13 Pro Max camera quality

Google spec’d a bigger sensor than what Apple uses in the latest iPhones and, therefore, should have been able to crush Apple in image quality. DxOMark says otherwise. In lab conditions, the Pixel 6 Pro scores 143 from the main camera:

The iPhone 13 Pro Max scores 144:

In real-world conditions, I would expect that the Apple camera software yields substantial practical advantages. The autofocus scores, above, already show that the iPhone is likely to be better at capturing kids running around.

As impartially measured by Google DEI employees, the Pixel 6 Pro scores higher in equity. “Image equity: Making image tools more fair for everyone” (

As part of Google’s Product Inclusion efforts, our teams are building more equitable camera and imaging products for people of color.

Building better tools for a community works best when they’re built with the community. For the new Pixel 6 Camera, we partnered with a diverse range of renowned image makers who are celebrated for their beautiful and accurate depictions of communities of color—including Kira Kelly, Deun Ivory, Adrienne Raquel, Kristian Mercado, Zuly Garcia, Shayan Asgharnia, Natacha Ikoli and more—to help our teams understand where we needed to do better. With their help, we’ve significantly increased the number of portraits of people of color in the image datasets that train our camera models.

(the bad old days: “Google Photos Tags Two African-Americans As Gorillas Through Facial Recognition Software” (Forbes))

If having accessible “communities of color” is helpful in building a more equitable camera, shouldn’t Samsung have the most equitable camera of all? Nearly all South Koreans are “of color” by our current definition. (See “Michelle Wu is Boston’s first woman and first person of color elected mayor” from state-sponsored NPR, regarding a Chinese-American (apparently this person’s most important characteristics relative to the mayor job are current gender ID and skin color)).

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Canon mirrorless versus Sony?

Now that we have near-Biden levels of free cash to spend (rent in Florida is cheaper than property tax plus lawn mowing in Maskachusetts and our neighborhood has a lot more to offer, especially for kids, than where we used to live), it is time to upgrade the household camera bodies. I have a few Sony lenses, both for full-frame and APS-C. I have lots of Canon EOS lenses, but they’re for the traditional SLRs, not for the new RF mount (which can use the old lenses via an adapter, e.g., when it is time to take pictures of birds).

Sony’s sensors were so much better than Canon’s for so long that I stopped using Canon, but DXOMARK says that the EOS R5 is competitive with Sony (14.6 stops of dynamic range, compare to 13.6 for the EOS 5D IV (2016), 11.7 for the EOS 5D III (2012), and 14.5 for the Sony A1).

Tony and Chelsea Northrup found that the Canon delivered a higher percentage of usable images of moving subjects than the Sony A1, which has a faster frame rate and costs more. The test might not have been fair, though, because of differences in lenses used, adapters, etc.

A friend loves his Nikon Z system (#SonySensorsInside), but I don’t have any Nikon lenses or bodies, so I’d like to stick with Sony or Canon.

Anyone here played around with the Canon R5 or the Sony A1? I’m leaning toward the Canon because it is cheaper, will let me use the legacy specialized lenses, and I never made peace with the Sony interface and software. On the other hand, Sony seems to be a lot more devoted to this market than Canon, which can’t even be bothered to ship a conventional SLR body with a decent sensor (last upgrade to the EOS 5D was five years ago!). I don’t see how, in the long run, the market can be big enough for more than one company and Sony’s annual revenues are $81 billion versus only about $30 billion for Canon. Combine the difference in financial resources with Sony’s demonstrated passion to take the market away from Canon and I think Sony is the better long-term bet.


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My dream realized: four hours of government questioning regarding 35mm v. 120 v. 4×5

From the city that has been the heart of America’s camera repair industry, “LaGuardia Scare Sparked by Woman’s Mistake About Flier’s Phone Videos, Camera: Source” (NBC):

A woman traveling with children worried another passenger on a New York City-bound flight was watching “suspicious” videos on his phone and reported him, forcing the emergency landing at LaGuardia Airport over the weekend, a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the case told News 4 Tuesday.

According to the source, the woman first saw the man watch videos she thought were sketchy. Then the man took out an odd-looking object and began fiddling with it, the source said. The woman feared he was watching suspicious videos and then took out a “suspicious” device — and that’s what was alerted to authorities.

It turns out, though, the man was watching videos on how to set and repair an antique camera, the law enforcement said. And then he took out an antique camera to try to adjust it, the source added.

The man was questioned by authorities for a total of about four hours between FBI and Port Authority investigators after what police and airline officials referred to as a “security incident.” He was later released.

Video captured by a passenger and shared with NBC News showed firefighters attending to one person lying facedown on the taxiway.

Finally classic film cameras get the attention that they deserve. I’m hopeful that the camera that aroused panic was a Fuji G617 (negatives or slides 6x17cm in size from 120 or 220 roll film):

Or perhaps a Linhof Master Technika (4×5 inch sheets):

I had been thinking of using my own Fuji G617 as a bookshelf curio, but now I am worried that neighbors will see it through the window and call the police!

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