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|| News Item: Posted 2006-10-04

Canon's new 1.6X teleconverter!
By Patrick Murphy-Racey

Anybody that's ever met me knows I'm a huge supporter and user of Canon's entire system of lenses and cameras. One of the greatest things about the current lineup of camera bodies is that you can choose from full-frame, 1.3x or 1.6x conversions depending on the size of the chip in the body you select.

The assignment I shot today is a great example of how I use all of Canon's bodies in various situations.

I had to shoot some lit food images on location in a theme park that I do a lot of work for here in Tennessee. I also had to shoot a popular Bluegrass band performance in the big theater on the park as well.

When shooting the food stuff, the combination of the EF24-70mm f/2.8L and the EOS 1Ds MII is unstoppable. When shooting food, especially close up, you have to be careful with carrying depth of field, and not distorting your images. Your field of view is different than your perspective. Using a 1.6x camera body with a 50mm lens doesn't make it an 80mm lens optically; it stays the same focal length. The only way to change a straight lens's optical characteristics is by adding an extension tube (which is a cool way to use a 200mm lens to shoot a tight portrait with a 12.5mm tube).

Full frame cameras really help you with distortion in a big way as they won't "bend up" things on the edges in the same way lenses made for smaller (1.5x and 1.6X) chips do. This is why you see so much distortion on the popular 17-85 and 18-55mm lenses that are actually 27-136mm and 29-88mm on the 1.6x chips bodies.

But later on this afternoon I had to shoot the Bluegrass band in a theater. What my client needs is really clean, sharp, and tight performance stuff, even though the theater is not lit that well. For me to give them a bunch of 1600 ISO noise shots wouldn't cut it. So, I used my trusty EF200mm f/1.8L with a 30D body. I shot at 200 ISO at 1/320th @ f/1.8. While my field of view was exactly the same as a 320mm lens, it was still a 200mm f/1.8. Since that lens has VERY shallow DOF, it didn't matter as it still enabled me to shoot the main guy in the band and blow the rest of them out of focus even though they were standing right next to him. The 1DsMII stayed in the Domke for that shoot.

When I travel with the University of Tennessee football team to away games in the dark caves of the SEC and beyond (not mentioning any names), I make a huge sacrifice by shooting my 400mm f/2.8 instead of my beloved 600, and I'm often using a 30D as my main camera. This allows me to enjoy the field of view of a 640mm lens and still shoot at f/2.8. So I'm at 1250 ISO when my comrades are mostly shooting at 3200 or worse.

Similarly, when shooting track & field I bring all three types of cameras with me so I can choose the right field of view and DOF possible for each event and position. When shooting long jump with a busy background, I'm likely to use a 200mm lens when everyone else is shooting a 400 because I can half the distance to the subject and actually blow out the nasty chain-link-fence better. I'll shoot wide open at f/1.8 and use 4000th second in order to fully realize my lens/camera/DOF selection.

Just a few feet away from long jump, I might choose a shorter lens and teleconverter combo to give me more DOF in order to shoot multiple people going over the bar at different focus points. This will increase your DOF allowing for more "in focus" images. So your lens selection can work for you in reverse as well. You might be better off shooting a 30D with a 135mm (216mm) than a full-frame 1DsMII with a 200mm lens.

So, for those of you that don't take 20/30D bodies seriously, don't think of them as bad remote cameras or too slow for football. See them in another reality as new teleconverters that will allow you to expand your lens selections in all your shoots and that will help you take better control of your environs wherever you find yourself on location.

Last, for those of you that haven't shot full-frame since they took your film away at the paper, do yourself a favor and borrow one sometime and just shoot a simple portrait with an 85mm lens. You'll be blown away with how everything looks in both the viewfinder (think 60 inch plasma) and in your final images. As we hear in increasing numbers the rumors of the next round of new bodies from Canon, I can't wait! I'm hoping for a 1.4 gigawatt chip in a full frame, 12 fps body with a non-blurring 1/500th flash sync speed. But for now, as basketball approaches, I'm all about the Rebel Xti with its 10 MP chip and "elcheapo" price tag for bolting onto the backstop. Combine an Xti with the 18-55 zoom, and you've got a big file remote camera with almost the whole arena in focus.

(Patrick Murphy-Racey is a freelance photographer based near Knoxville, TN. You can see examples of his work at his member page: and his personal website:

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Wanna see some cool golf shots me! ::..