New tools

A new camera

Even though I loved a lot about the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III its size kept me from taking it places I wanted to take it, so I decided to sell some stuff and replace it with some other stuff. My first intention was to get a 5D Mark III, I had the original 5D, loved it, and the Mark III seemed to be a mix of that and the 1Ds Mark III, the best of both worlds. After getting some quotes for my gear at keh.com I realized I came very close to being able to make it happen. Then I found the refurbished section on canon.com and everything fell into place. Even better was the fact that Keh was coming to Salt Lake City so I could have them look over my gear, grade it and if I wanted to I could get a check on the spot. The quote from their review was a bit higher than what I got on their website so I pulled the trigger. I know I could have gotten a bit more if I had sold all the pieces on ebay but then I had to deal with a lot of other hassles as well. After I deposited the check in the bank I went home to order the 5D Mark III, to my despair they were no longer in stock!

Dang, now I only had the Rebel T2i, which we bought for Debbie to take photos of her art with. I actually spent time with it on the Utah state fair and it worked fine. This experience and reading some reviews on the 5D Mark III and alternatives made me doubt my decision. Buying it would use up all my money, all the other options were way cheaper. In the end I decided on the 6D, it is sort of a mix between the 5D and the T2i, still full frame, good high ISO and a minimal focusing system. Especially the last feature kept me in doubt for a while, but for most of the stuff I shoot I take my time to focus and compose anyway so the speed of the AF system is not that big a deal for me. Since Canon did have the refurbished 6D in stock the decision was quickly final.

Moroni and Luna

A new lens

This left me with over $1600 in my pocket, enough for a nice lens, When in Japan I bought a Canon 24mm tilt shift lens and have been enjoying it every time I take it out. I had been pining for the 45mm and 90mm tilt shifts which would be more useful in a studio setting. If I got lucky on ebay I could get both of these with the remaining money. But luck was not on my side on ebay, I missed out on a 90mm due to bad timing and the price on a 45mm went higher than I wanted to pay. But while browsing ebay I rediscovered the tilt/shift adapters that use Pentacon Six lenses. By foregoing the shift option the adapter is only $125 and the lenses range from $100 to $300. An easy and economical way to try it out. I started with an adapter and a Russian Flektagon 45mm f/3.5, The latter was shipped from the Ukraine so I was wondering how long it would take to get here, just over a week it turned out. Problem was that the adapter I was sent from another ebay seller was not for a Pentacon 6 lens but for a Hasselblat, it took another 2 weeks to have it replaced so I could finally put the lens on my camera. I’l get into more details of the whole setup in another blog post, but for now here is one of the first shots I took with it.

Bride before temple

A new computer

After all this I still had another $1300 to spend, I started looking at upgrades for my computer. My current machine was bought as a floor model gaming machine at the Media Markt some 6 years ago. I upgraded it to Windows 7 and added some much needed disk space but while it ran games very smoothly, Photoshop and Lightroom were a little sluggish. Especially now that I had made use of the photographer discount for Photoshop CC. Buying a new complete system was out of the question with my budget but building one with parts from my existing system could be a possibility. After some reading and watching reviews it was clear that the new Haswell Intel chips with the Z87 chip set would make a killer system with plenty of room to upgrade in the future. Especially the 6 SATA connections for as many RAID disks appealed to me. I am running 3 1TB disks in RAID 5 at the moment for storing my photo’s, even though it’s 2TB total there is currently only 41GB free. Together with my system drive and this RAID array take up all the SATA connections in my system. But with 6 (or more depending on the mother board) I could just add my spare 1GB drive to the new system and end up with a 3GB RAID 5 array. A little bit more risky for when one of them dies but I am keeping backups as well so it’s a risk I am willing to take.

One sleepless night sleuthing through discounts and mail in rebates I managed to find all the pieces for a new machine within my budget and with little compromises on performance. Exciting to finally again build my own computer and knowing what’s inside and why.

Old New
Antec nine hundred case Rosewill R5 case
Asus PN5-E SLI motherboard AsRock Z87 Extreme6 motherboard
Intel Core 2 Quad QX6700 @2.67GHz CPU Intel Core i7 4770K @3.5GHz CPU
8 GB DDR2 800 and all slots taken 16 GB DDR3 1600 and 2 slots open
 NVidia GeForce 8800 GTS video card AMD Radeon HD7870 GHz Edition video card
500GB OS and App HD 400GB OS and App HD
128GB SSD to speed up OS drive and for WIP and Lightroom catalog
3 x 1GB in RAID 5 = 2GB 4 x 1GB in RAID 5 = 3GB
5.9 Windows Experience Index 5.3 Windows Experience Index
That’s all because of the system disk, all other measurements lead to 7.8 or 7.9. I think the SSD works in practice but not for the Windows Experience Index
Windows 7 SP1 64 bit Windows 7 SP1 64 bit

Why I still don’t have a Mac? A comparable system would cost me $3,698.00 for an iMac, that includes $1099 for a 4GB RAID just because I cannot reuse any of my current hardware. Or $3,474.00 for a Mac Pro in which I believe I could reuse my hard disks but be limited to 4 drive bays again. A Mac would have saved me the sleepless night and the day it will take to put it all together, but as long as I am unemployed that time is free. Considering I could make $55/hr, that Mac route is still way more expensive and since the applications work the same on either operating system it’s not worth it to me.

Two Mormon staples

This machine rocks! With the Lightroom catalog on an SSD it flies like lighting and Photoshop starts up within 2 seconds and filters work in real time instead of always lagging behind my adjustments. The latter improvement is mainly due to the video card I think.

One thing it does not have is an optical drive, the only time this was a problem so far was when I tried to install Canon EOS utilities. The software is all downloadable from the Canon site but needs the software already installed to upgrade or the original disk to install from scratch. Luckily there are some registry hacks that get around this requirement.

The photos in this post were all shot (on a walk around the main Mormon temple in Salt Lake City) and processed with the new equipment.