niina.amniisia » bits, pieces and photos from sydney, australia and elsewhere

Canon ups and downs (Sunday September 17th, 2006)

category: photography

Canon 430ex external flash

Above is my new little baby, a Canon 430EX external Flash, which I’d been eyeing up for a while. So far I’ve been practicing around home taking snaps of anything and everything in the automatic mode along with a couple of shots at gigs (I still don’t like flash use at gigs but some venues leave you little option but to snap a couple of pictures with a flash to get a decent shot). More practice required and I’m left wishing that there was a “school of gig photography” that would hire out a dark venue for a day and you could practice and perfect your shooting. They could give the stage up to bands who want to do a bit of rehearsing as long as they don’t object to Flashes going off and people hovering around their toes to try out different angles.

I was reading up on Dan Boud’s Tips for live music / concert photography before heading out last night. I’d decided it was time to try and take control over my camera rather than just adjust ISO and what not. But in the style of all things Niina, my little old 300D must have sensed what I was up to (or perhaps it had seen me enviously reading the new 400Ds specs) as after 5 shots it decided it didn’t want to auto-focus anymore. I took the camera to the loos to get some more light and see if I’d pushed something accidentally but couldn’t see anything wrong. I removed and replaced the battery. Tried the automatic shooting settings thinking the problem might be only with the advanced modes. Each time I pushed the shutter button halfway it would zoom in, zoom back out, remain out of focus and refuse to take the shot. Nothing could coax it to auto-focus.

Thankfully all was not lost as the camera let me take shots after I switched over to manual focus but Spectrum’s darkness and bouncing band members doesn’t make for easy shooting. The results were a little hit-and-miss but I did use the time to play around with the shutterspeed.

Back home I still can’t get to the bottom of the 300Ds broken auto-focus. The problem also occurs with my other lens, with the inbuilt flash, and with the 430ex flash, so it looks to be a problem with the camera body. Google searches haven’t brought up anything similar yet. I really don’t want to have to send it off to Canon for repair again after their shocking customer service last time. And there’s a gig coming up Friday that I want to take pictures at… hrm.

4 comments to “Canon ups and downs”
Dan said on September 18th, 2006 at 7:02 am:

Perhaps hire a camera body for the gig? Then you could really go to town, experimenting with some different kit (although that would also mean learning new ways of working).

I had a funny old time at a gig last night. There was another woman shooting, with a 300/350/400D or somesuch, and she had it set on red-eye reduction mode. So not only did she flash the band a lot, every time she took a picture the flash strobed beforehand. I had a field day - it was quite easy to anticipate when she was going to take a picture, so I just stuck my camera in burst mode, set exposure around 1/10th (actually, that’s what I’ve been using most of the time recently at dark gigs - it makes things fuzzy, but you get some really nice motion shots) and then started shooting away as soon as I knew she was going to press the button. I got about a dozen really nice shots lit by her flash, I especially like this one:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gulch/244950675/

matt said on September 18th, 2006 at 11:06 pm:

hey it could be that the autofocus mirror has broken. That eventually happened on my 300d (and unfortunately seems pretty common). From memory i could see the autofocus mirror attached to the shutter and could physically push it up then i could use the camera in manual mode. When the autofocus mirror was hanging down, autofocus worked but the photo was half black…

cost me around $200 to fix and while i waited i just bought a 20d :)

niina said on September 19th, 2006 at 12:02 am:

Dan S - that photo is crazy! :) I’ve sometimes ended up with fun results from catching flashes from other cameras but I’ve never deliberately tried to get creative with it. Might do that next time someone’s bugging me with too much flashing.

Matt - thanks for the comment. I took my 300d to a camera repair shop today and they diagnosed exactly that, a broken autofocus mirror and a quote of $250 but I need my camera for the weekend so I wasn’t prepared to part with it just yet.

Upgrading is on the cards.. but I might make myself battle with the manual focus for a month or two to get in some (forced!) practice and take time to read up on the 400d while seeing how it affects the price of the 30d.. Mmmm I think Christmas will come early.

PS. Love your work!

Dan said on September 26th, 2006 at 9:26 pm:

Practicing manual focus is probably a skill worth having, and it’s one I keep telling myself I ought to use more. Damn hard to do in dark gigs though.

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