Top cameras and lenses used by the White House photography staff

EF85mm f/1.2L II USM

I was browsing through The Official White House Photostream on Flickr today. The photographs are excellent. Pete Souza is the Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama and Director of the White House photo office.

I noticed that the EXIF data was available for just about every photo and it contained lens information. Naturally, being a programmer/photography geek, I decided to download the EXIF data for all 1,433 photos (as of today) and find out which lenses the White House photography staff likes best. Here are the results:

Cameras

Camera # of photos
Canon EOS 5D Mark II 1074
Canon EOS 1DS Mark III 31
Canon EOS 5D 23
Canon EOS 1DS Mark II 2
Unknown 303

Lenses

Lens # of photos
EF35mm f/1.4L USM 439
EF50mm f/1.2L USM 179
EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM 166
EF135mm f/2L USM 136
EF24mm f/1.4L II USM 69
EF85mm f/1.2L II USM 34
EF70-200mm f/4L USM 16
EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM 27
EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM 20
EF28mm f/1.8 USM 10
EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM 5
EF135mm f/2L USM +1.4x 3
EF300mm f/2.8L IS USM 3
EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM 3
EF24mm f/1.4L USM 3
EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM 2
EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM +1.4x 2
70.0-200.0 mm 2
EF20mm f/2.8 USM 1
EF35mm f/2 1
EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM +1.4x 1
EF200mm f/1.8L USM 1
Unknown 310

Wednesday grab bag

And now for some links that respect your personal space…

Video review: Canon Selphy CP760 Compact Photo Printer


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Girls think it’s cute but don’t count on it getting you any phone numbers on walks in the park. It’s cheap and easy but not a tramp. Give up? I’m talking about the Canon Selphy CP760 compact photo printer, of course.

I purchased the Selphy Sunday evening and through the miracles of the internet and a global transportation infrastructure it arrived on my doorstep Wednesday. And I’m so glad I did. It’s a fun little printer.

Despite it’s tiny size, the CP760 leans more toward the non-portable end of the spectrum than, say, the CP770 which comes in a plastic bucket or the ES30 which has an integrated handle and optional wireless and can run on batteries. No, this guy is intended to sit on a desk or table unobtrusively and quietly until needed. Although, technically, it’s small enough and light enough to move about if necessary and doesn’t require a connection to a computer to operate.

selphy_cp760

Color reproduction is very good at the default settings although reds are a little oversaturated for my taste. Skin tones look natural and fine details are rendered nicely. Colors are accurate without any trace of dithering which is especially nice in lightly colored areas compared to inkjet prints. Overall, as good or better than your local 1-hour lab. Prints are dry and ready to handle in just a few seconds.

Black and white prints are nothing to write home about—I’d call them “really dark gray” and white prints—but there are no colored pixels in them at all which is nice.

The Selphy came with a 4-print sample pack that made exactly 4 prints—no more, no less.

You must use Canon paper and dye packs designed for this printer although in the 108-print bundle the prints are reasonable at $0.27 each. The paper has perforated tabs that are easily removed but leave a barely perceptible ragged edge.

Prints are almost but not quite 4×6. Image cropping for full edge-to-edge printing is minimal and acceptable. Because of the paper path, the Selphy needs about 7.5×15 inches of total desk space. It’s not overly noisy and the included power cord is very long with an integrated velcro tie.

I’ve taught my kids how to use it and put a jar next to the printer. They are to deposit $0.25 each time they print something. What do you want to bet I’ll only have about $2.39 in loose change when it’s time to buy more supplies?

  • Time per print: 75 seconds (a little longer for the first one)
  • Actual final print size: 3.9×5.8 inches (100×147 mm)
  • Edge bleed: 0.1 inches (2.5 mm) on each long edge, 0.2 inches (5 mm) on the short edges
  • Cost: $119.99 at Amazon.com

Buy one at Amazon.com

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Four compact photo printers under $150

I hate printing photos at home. Every time I do it I’ve got to fiddle with printer settings, change the paper, do a test print, yadda yadda. It’s always been a pain in the neck. But, at least partly, I think that’s been because I’ve never owned a dedicated photo printer. I’ve always had my main document printer do double duty. Not only was it a pain, the results weren’t all that great anyway. Which is why I think I was so fascinated when I discovered compact photo printers.

Epson PictureMate

Epson PictureMate

I’d heard of them before, of course. Maybe it’s the price. Maybe it’s the new form factor. But something about this latest generation just clicked with me. Here is a class of printers dedicated to doing one thing and one thing only: print 4×6 snapshots. No fussing with loading the right paper. No worrying about running out of ink for your documents. No connectivity to a computer required.

I narrowed my final selection down to four: the Epson PictureMate Dash PM260 ($139), Canon Selphy CP760 ($77), HP A636 ($116), and the Canon Selphy ES30 ($136).

Canon Selphy CP760

Canon Selphy CP760

All of these printers are under $150. There are more advanced compact photo printers on the market but usually all you get are more effects and storage space, not better print quality. For example, the Canon Selphy ES3 is identical to the ES30 but comes with more built-in effects (frames and stamps to put on your photos) and 1 GB internal memory for photo storage. It costs $169.

The Epson and HP printers use inkjet technology. Canon is unique in its decision to use dye-sublimation print technology. If you have a printer it is probably an inkjet. These printers spray ink in microscopic droplets onto paper through hundreds of tiny nozzles.

HP A636

HP A636

Dye-sublimation on the other hand uses heat to transfer dye from a ribbon. Inkjets spray all of the necessary colors simultaneously in a single pass over the paper. Dye-sub printers make multiple passes over the paper, one for each color plus a protective top-coat.

The primary advantage of dye-sub over inkjet for photo printing is the wider color gamut. Inkjets simulate multiple colors by dithering dots of ink in patterns. But these dye-sub printers can actually generate 256 levels of each color per dot (at 300 dpi) for a gamut of about 16.8 million colors without dithering.

Canon Selphy ES30

Canon Selphy ES30

Another advantage which I found compelling is the cost per print. A common complaint with inkjet printers, and with the Epson and HP above in particular, is that the ink never lasts for as many prints as it is rated for (according to reviews by owners). Compounding the problem is the fact that the manufacturers have opted to sell paper and ink together in packs. The result is that one is always left with extra paper once the ink is gone and the cost per print is higher than expected.

Like HP and Epson, Canon also sells ink and paper together in packs. However, dye-sublimation technology always uses exactly one color ribbon per page. So when you buy a pack of dye-sub ink/paper for 50 prints, you will get exactly 50 prints before you need to buy more supplies. The cost/print is a fixed and predictable quantity (and about $0.27 per print if you buy the 108 print packs).

So I purchased the Canon Selphy CP760 last night from Amazon. It’s not only the cheapest of the lot at just $77, I think it looks the best, too. I was tempted by the ES30 but I decided I didn’t need any of their built-in clipart or borders at almost twice the price. All I really want is a big green button on the front that says “Print.”

I’ll write a full review after I receive it on Wednesday.

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