Glen Goffin Photography

Monday, June 1, 2009

49 Canon Mystical Mojo?

Is there a mystical Canon mojo? Are there secret color correction algorithms that have been handed down to Canon engineers by Tibetan monks over thousands of years? Or, in this case, Japanese monks, I suppose. Perhaps, as they were endlessly standing on the tips of bamboo poles perfecting their Kung Fu, they were mentally working out lens correction equations ... like say the five fingered exploding heart technique or, in this case, the 50mm exploding bokeh technique.

I've heard tell many times that Canon has a 'magic'. Initially I lumped it as stiff-necked partisanship and religious zeal since I was already stiff-neck-edly (neckedly!?!) partisan toward Nikon myself. I mean, hey, I spent a TON of $$ on that gear! (disclaimer: engineers define "ton of $$" as anything more than the cost of lunch.)

Before going any further, let me say, Nikon use-ability is brilliant. I find every aspect of the feel and use of the D80 to be intuitive and easy. If Canon has the tao of imagery, Nikon has the zen of useability. Ok, with the sugar comes the vinegar. I also find that the pictures I get from the D80 are just that ... pictures. What does that mean? I have no idea. It doesn't mean anything until you see an image that is much MORE than a picture. They have life. They're strong and don't need any help. With my D80, I have to use PS to resuscitate my pics ... to give them life ... to act as a photo-AED (auto-electronic defribillator). CLEEEAAR!!!!!

Sometimes though, I wonder if it is like looking at your sister? She may be drop-dead gorgeous but you can't see it because ... well ... she's your sister!! If I make a 5D mk II part of my family well ... emmmm ... hmm ... eww

Then there is this weird thing that keeps happening. This little voice in my head that says "AHA!!" every time I see a spectacular image that came from a Canon. I think that is the part of me that can't accept that my photography skills stink so it blames the camera. Not sure. It seems to be pretty consistent and pretty accurate. Could I survive a blind-fold test? Doubtful ... but ... well ... maybe.

I'll ramble on about this more later. Meanwhile, I would LOVE to hear your opinions!

PS - if you don't know what I'm talking about, visit some of my fave photogs like Kathleen Connally, Ami Vitale, Mitchell Kanashkevich ... and on and on. Kathleen does very little PP'ing to her images.

Peace and love,


Ángel Corrochano said...

It excites the calidez to me of the color of this image, Sensual forms, discover excellent details to us. Precious composition


Glen Goffin said...

Thank you, Angel! You are very kind.

Bogdan said...

Dunno what to say! i think that you can have nice colors on nikon too! I know a lot of ppl using nikon and they have breath taking pictures, with amazing colors!

Glen Goffin said...

Of course, you're right, Bogdan :) In the end, it really is personal preference. I guess my only point really was that there are noticeable differences just as there were in the old days between film types. They are very subtle differences though. And I guess I'm finding the Canon vibe really enjoyable at the moment:) I'm going to try to borrow or rent a Canon and see if it makes any noticeable difference.

Andreas said...

Well, even very little post-processing can bring you a long way when done right :)

Besides: most people define as post-processing what happens after RAW conversion, and I can guarantee you that all the colors, that you speak of, have been tweaked in Adobe Camera RAW or another RAW converter.

There's no difference in cameras but ergonomics, megapixels and a little in how much noise they have at high ISO.

Most cameras let you even tweak the in-camera processing to JPEG. I believe the D80 is not very flexible in that regard, but from the D90/D300 on, Nikon copied Canon's Picture Styles, and alone the difference between such settings on one camera is much more than the principle difference between cameras.

Relax :)

Glen Goffin said...

Andreas - True, color space is easily modified with many different tools. Do you think the 12 bit vs. 14 bit sample depth make a noticeable difference? Color nuance? I always shoot RAW so the JPEG issues aren't a problem for me.

Andreas said...

I think 12 vs 14 bit is relevant only in dynamic range. I make you an offer: show me an image of yours that you think would benefit from Canon's Mysical Mojo. I'll try to look at it and tell you what I'd do. Maybe it is a matter of local contrast, some dodging and burning, added vibrancy, ... I don't know. Show me the image.

Glen Goffin said...

Andreas - that is very kind of you! It is almost every image of mine that fails to "come to life" though I may spend hours dodging and burning, adjusting color, etc. As I mentioned in the post, I'm sure it is the artist not the tool that is the problem here. But my aspiration is to be able to produce work like Kathleen Connally at

I can't pinpoint what my issues are though I think the most significant is the light. She clearly tends to shoot her landscapes in the "golden hours".