Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Eos 6D Review - Part 2 ( GPS & The Garden Route Portfolio )

Well I have had the Eos 6D for about 4 months now and I have come to really appreciate some of its unique features...and unfortunately some disappointment in others...


One feature that I really like a lot is the build in GPS...

 My wife, Cheryl,  and I flew to Plettenberg Bay via George for a short weekend at the end of January 2014. When I arrived at the airport in George I switched on the GPS and only switched it off again on my return flight back to Johannesburg.

The Garden Route is famous for its natural beauty. I haven't been there for a while and was struck once  again by the dramatic landscape of sea and mountains and the beauty of the unfortunately dwindling indigenous forests. The big advantage the Garden route has over Cape town, i.m.o, is that one can actually swim in the sea because the water is quite a bit warmer! I was also amazed at how popular South Africa has become as a tourist destination and one could constantly hear German being spoken by the mostly middle aged tourists!


The photo above was made on the coast near Harkerville a short drive from Plettenberg  Bay on the beautiful Garden Route in South Africa. Below on the map is the exact spot from here this photograph was made.

The build in GPS of the Eos 6D is quite handy to have even though initially I thought of it as a bit of a 'party trick'! I started used it on my trip to Cape Town in December last year and it is a great help in identifying where each photograph was actually made, and it has saved my wife the chore of writing down the locations for every photo stop on the way down.

Canon also makes an external, slightly more sophisticated 'GP E2 GPS Receiver' but it adds a bit of bulk  because it slots into the hot shoe of the camera and frankly. Price for the external GPS over here is equivalent to a 85mm f1.8 Canon lens, but with the Eos 6D it comes build in for free! The one advantage of the external GPS over the one inside the Eos 6D is that it can apparently also show the direction in which the camera was pointed.

The GPS is very easy to activate...

It is quite easy to activate the GPS in the menu and I have found that its not such a big drain on the battery. On my journey down to Cape Town through the Karoo I found that a 32 gig SD card was enough for a days shooting, as was one battery, although I always carried a spare battery and fortunately only needed it on a few occasions. This was achieved with the GPS activated all the time. 

We saw this owl perched on a branch of a tree right next to a restaurant on Thesen Island in Knysna where we stopped for lunch on our way to Plettenberg Bay. The map below shows the exact spot from where I took the photograph. 

The thing is that the GPS stays activated even though the camera is turned off and if left overnight it does drain the battery as it takes a 'reading' every few seconds or minutes or whichever interval set in the menu.  I got in the habit of just taking out the battery at night,  ( which I would do anyway if I wanted to recharge it ) rather than switching the GPS off in the menu, safeguarding against forgetting to switch it on again in the morning when I resumed my travels.

In Lightroom 4 it clearly shows on each thumbnail if the photo has GPS coordinates. There is also a 'Map' heading in LR that will show the map where the images were made in a specific geographical area.   

Shown above the map of Plettenberg Bay and the exact areas where I photographed from as well as the number of photographs made in each location

The great thing about the images having an embedded GPS coordinate is that it is just so easy to afterwards determine exactly where the images were made. The Camera also has a route logging facility that takes a reading even if the camera is turned off. So if one is travelling and the camera is switched off as most of us are wont to when not actually using it, the GPS will keep on logging the route.

Strangely my 'Zoombrower' does not have a 'map utility' so I couldn't view my GPS log via Canon's software, nor via Lightroom4. For some reason LR4 could not import the logs, even though it makes provision for  'GPS Tracklogs'. Eventually my clever son Alex managed to import them straight into Google Earth via 'Notebook'. I will investigate further how to upload them via Zoombrowser, but for now Google Earth will have to do.

       Shown here above the track logs from my trip to Cape Town and my weekend in Plettenberg Bay. 

The track logs can be very helpful in planning a trip and I plan to use this GPS of the Eos 6d a lot in the future. The GPS is really a 'must have' feature for travel photographers!

AF, the good and the bad

The Eos 6d still amazes me with its very good image quality, ease of use and very low noise levels at high ISO's.

So far the performance of the center AF point has been very good but the whole AF experience is let down by the rest of the AF points which are unfortunately very hit & miss....I just cant yet determine exactly what they will focus on and what not...quite frustrating really and so far my biggest disappointment with the performance of the Eos 6D,  that and the lack of a joystick to move the AF points as found on the 5D2 & 3. The frustrating 'two stage' process of moving the AF points around is fortunately lessened by my growing reluctance to use them because of their poor performance. One just doesn't know when they will lock on or hunt, made even worse in low light levels, with the result that I rely more and more on the center point only.

Below some of the photographs made on my short weekend in Plettenberg Bay at the end of January 2014

I have 'over processed' these a bit more compared to my usual de-saturated look... I dont normally do 'pretty pictures', my usual fare is a bit more austere and documentary, but I couldn't help myself being surrounded by all this natural beauty...walking on the beach, going for a swim and just aimlessly wandering around with a camera, is all good for the soul and quite an uplifting experience...

I used mostly Nik Viveza and Topaz Adjust to process these images, and if some are a bit over the top, well, that's just how I felt at the time!

All images made with an Eos 6d with the following Canon lenses, 17-40L, 24 tilt & shift, 40mm pancake, 85mm and 70-300L

Thesen Island, Knysna

Forest near Pletenberg Bay

Plettenberg Bay with a view of Robberg

Near Natures Valley

Near Natures Valley

 Arch, Keurboom Strand

Forrest Ferns near Plettenberg Bay 

Leaves in the Forrest

Robberg, Plettenberg Bay

 Robberg at Sunset

Near Natures Valley

Stitched Panoramic view of Plettenberg Bay & Robberg from Piesang Valley

View from the cliffs near Harkerville, Plettenberg Bay

Near Natures Valley

Keurboom Strand

 Feather, Keurboom Strand

Regards, Ivan

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