Alan Duncan Photography,   tel: +44 [0]1303 243 935
14 Kingsnorth Gardens, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 2QW
Member of the Master Photographers Association


Photographers blog - for professional photographers & enthusiastic amateur photographers!


Whilst shooting a wedding recently at The Hythe Imperial Hotel, I photographed some "distant" relations - in Canada! That's the longest wedding photograph I've ever taken! The groom had brought his laptop to the reception and using Skype, setup a two-way video call to his relatives so that they could see and hear the speeches. Very thoughtful! Seeing and talking to them [in Canada!], I managed to get them to pose for me whilst I photographed the laptop screen! Very unusual!  

wedding photography in Hythe Kent


Canon EOS-1D X

The long-awaited Canon EOS-1DS mark IV is not going to happen! Instead, Canon have decided to amalgamate the 1DS series with the 1D series to produce the Canon EOS-1D X. Gone too are the expectations that we're going to see another increase in pixel resolution - 32MP was rumoured. Instead, a lower spec 18MP body is being released here in the UK in March 2012, however, with promised smoother images, more frames per second, better low light capabilities, 1080p HD video, an updated LCD screen [at last!], better dust prevention [much needed!] and many other more minor additions and improvements. We should be able to see this at the SWPP show in January and Focus in March. Expected RRP: £5300.

Sandisk 32GB Memory Cards

In the ever increasing demand for larger capacity flash memory cards for our ever increasing DSLR chip sizes, I purchased a couple of 32GB Sandisk Extreme cards - one CF and one SDHC. In the 1DSmk3, they can be used together in a "duplicate" fashion so that there is a backup file in either the same format as the main file [usually RAW for me] or as a smaller JPEG file, perhaps for quick viewing or proofing for the customer. Used separately, each card has the capacity to store over 1000, 21MP RAW files! Another less obvious advantage of these huge capacity cards is that you don't have to keep deleting the files from other recent jobs to make space for the next job - so there is always another backup! Never a bad thing!

Quantum Turbo 2x2 battery pack

Having been frustrated with too many dark exposures when taking a succession of flash shots because the flashgun won't recycle fast enough [even on Canons' top flash, the Speedlite 580EXII], I decided to buy the Quantum Turbo 2x2 battery pack. It's quite a lump to carry around[!], however it does cure the problem! It will bring the recycle time down from around 5 seconds using full power, to about 1. That's more like it!!!

Canon 1DS mark IV [ EOS 1DS mk4 ] see update above!

- the all new Canon EOS-1D X

There are a lot of rumours just now that the long awaited Canon 1DS mk4 may be appearing shortly! With a possible 32MP sensor, we may see this launched at Photokina in September.

Canon 5D mark II [ EOS 5D mk2 ]

I used to own a Canon 400D which was used as a small lightweight DSLR for holiday use, but the smaller sensor size dictated a different set of lenses from the professional "L" series lenses that I currently use, especially for wide angle use. Finally the 5D mk2 was introduced in 2009, with a full size, 21MB sensor, matching my 1DS mk3 - but smaller and lighter! So the 400D was upgraded and this has now become my camera of choice for travelling with, holidays, walks etc.

It lacks certain features when compared to the 1DS mk3, but it is less than half the price! It's big brother has better weather protection and dual memory slots. Image quality is similar, with the 5D mk2 having higher ISO settings for better low light use [1DS mk3 max = 3200, 5D mk2 max = 25600 - a three stop difference!], a higher definition LCD screen and a very interesting feature - on board HD video! I've dabbled a little bit with this feature and I can say that the technical quality is excellent, however the practical usability is not so good. Image stabilised lenses are preferable to prevent shake from the otherwise less natural camera holding position, compared to conventional video cameras. Video can only be monitored with the LCD screen, which means that the camera must be held away from the eye, at whatever nearest distance your eye can comfortably focus at. This is not dissimilar to how some consumer video cameras operate, but they mostly have some form of image stabilisation built in, whereas with this Canon DSLR, you only get image stabilisation if your lenses support it. So results can be a bit more "wobbly" than desired, unless precautions are taken! This summarizes the basic differences between Canon's current top two highest resolution DSLR's.

The economics of Digital versus Film Photography

Digital photography is cheaper??? There are no film and film processing costs and digital photography undoubtedly provides photographers with amazing new possibilities. However, the latest professional digital cameras are several times more expensive than their previous film versions and upgrades seem to be necessary every three years or so, as the technology is new and continually improving. The last Mamiya RZ67 cameras that I owned, were as good 15 years after their purchase as they were when they were initially purchased! Technology of film cameras had hardly changed in that time. Also, don't forget the costs of powerful computer equipment, storage and colour calibrated monitors.

The other and possibly more significant factor is time. A professional workflow for photographers now means that generally after an hours photo shoot, at least another hour is needed in "behind-the-scenes" production time. Initial backing up of the RAW shots taken, selecting and sorting images, adjustments to colour balance and exposure, file conversions to the common TIFF or JPEG file formats, cropping, retouching and resizing of files, burning to discs, further backups of the finished files, finally followed by the cataloging of each image for future reference, are all important and necessary tasks, but add a considerable amount of time to every job. Still cheaper? ;)

Canon 1DS mark III [ EOS 1DS mk3 ]

As of December 2007, the Canon 1DS mk3 is trickling through here in the UK. Probably THE camera to have, but I'm waiting to see a few reviews first before I run out and buy one. Specs can be found on Canon's website at: It's now February '08 and I have caved in to the pressure of owning the highest spec camera in its class! A larger screen, better battery life, inbuilt sensor cleaning and more memory card recording options are the main obvious improvements to this new 21 megapixel camera. A more hidden function is the "highlight tone priority" mode which has proved very useful for both aerial photography [photographing white buildings surrounded by much darker land & trees] and wedding photography [white wedding dresses - especially in sunshine]. Photographs generally appear to be "cleaner" and have more tonal depth. Excellent for high resolution aerial and commercial photography.

The Canon 1DS mark II [ EOS 1DS mk2 ]

After years of using 6x7cm, 5x4" and 35mm film camera systems, I now use the Canon 1DS mk2 for nearly all my photography. This is Canon's current flagship model with a 17MB sensor which will output approximately a 50MB TIFF file, equivalent to an A3 print @ 300dpi. A superb camera and of course, all the standard specifications can be found on Canon's website [], but I would like to make a few points about this camera which are a little less known.

The make and type of memory card used makes quite a difference to the speed at which images can be recorded at. Over the last few years I have used Lexar, IBM and SanDisk cards, the latter being the fastest, with a quoted 20MB per second write speed. Interestingly though, I purchased the new SanDisk Extreme IV, with a quoted write speed of 40MB per second! I expected a significant speed increase to the Extreme III, but the performance on a Canon 1DS mk2 was practically the same! Presumably now, the processing power of the camera is now the limiting factor, so don't waste the extra money on an Extreme IV, if you are contemplating buying a new card. The Extreme III is good enough! That said, if you also purchase the new SanDisk Firewire reader, it's conceivable that the download speeds to your computer can be increased, but this I can't comment on as yet.

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