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Messages - Cosk

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Canon General / Re: What should be my first dslr?
« on: February 02, 2012, 10:07:16 AM »
...but I'm also a poor college student so I would like for this camera to last me a couple years at least before I upgrade. So what I want to know is, which camera should I get?

I would like to be able to photograph a variety of things such as: children, landscape/wildlife and action sports (i.e. motocross and kids sporting games).

You do not mention lenses.  Getting good lenses will cost much more than a camera body.  I'd go with a Rebel refurb from the Canon store and a couple of good lenses.  You will keep and use good lenses for many years, but bodies come and go.

You will be wasting your money to buy a 7D and then get a cheapo lens.

Spokane said it well... the most common mistake you can make is putting all your money in a camera body, and slapping a cheap lens on it. 

Here are some non-intuitive things to know about DSLRs:

It's all about the lens:
~90% of your image quality is the lens.  You can put a great lens on a 5yr-old entry-level camera body and take amazing photos.  You can put a cheap lens on the newest pro body and take mediocre photos.

Lenses don't depreciate... bodies do.
In 2006, I bought a Canon 30D body for $1600, and a 50mm 1.4 lens for $300.  5 years later, the body is selling on ebay for $250, and the 50mm lens is selling used for $300.  In our world of iPod and laptop economics, that probably doesn't make sense... but that's the way it works.  Over a 5-year horizon, it's as if you borrow your lenses and rent bodies.   

When you look for lenses, aperture is more important than zoom.
If you look at two lenses:
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 vs.
Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS

The 2nd number is really important... since this is your first DLSR, I'm going to assume this is new to you.  If it's not, I apologize.  The lower the f/# (sometimes written 1:#), generally, the better images you will produce.  Low f/# lenses are called 'Fast Lenses' - but speed is only part of the story.  Have you seen photographs that look almost 3D, with things in the background blurring out?  That effect requires a large aperture (small f/#, or 'fast lens').  The problem is that that number also is directly correlated with the diameter of the lens... which requires more glass... and glass is heavy and expensive.  So unfortunately better Image Quality (IQ), bigger, heavier, and more expensive are all on the same side of the scale.

With that, I strongly recommend picking one excellent lens, and good lenses are ~$1000.
Then, take whatever money is left in your budget and buy a used body off eBay. 

In 4 years, your $1000 lens will still be worth $1000.  You can give the camera body to the neighbor kid to learn and buy a 7D off ebay for $500.  Once your student loans are paid off, then go get a whiz bang body.

Finally, You said you want to take children, action sports, wildlife, and landscapes.
Unfortunately those are all different lenses. 

Pick one place to start.  Below are some suggestions... not the best, but generally good bang for your buck. 

Good Generic lens - Landscape, Children:
Canon 17-55 f/2.8
Decent substitute: Tamron 17-50 f/2.8  <I haven't used this one... so do some more research

Excellent for Children and portraits
50mm 1.8

Excellent for outdoor Action Sports and Wildlife
70-200 f/4 IS

For Landscapes
All you need is a rock-solid tripod and a good alarm clock... the lens and bodies are far less important.

Finally, get a good book... DSLR for Dummies is a pretty good start. 

Software & Accessories / Re: Difference between B+W POL "E" vs "MRC"
« on: January 27, 2012, 05:55:03 PM »
How much better is a BW than the ones HOYA or Tiffen put out?

I have both BW and Hoya polarizers, and the BW are definitely worth the price difference over Hoya.  In fact, I'll never buy a Hoya again after trying B+Ws. 

It seems like the Hoya filters are constantly smudging, and they're hard to clean in the field - I always seem to get purple spots and smears, even when I use lens cloths.  For some reason, the B+W ones don't have that problem - I can get the B+Ws clean with 2 seconds and a t-shirt... while the Hoyas take a minute of hard polishing with a lens cloth, and they're still hazy.

The B+Ws also are brass, which go on and off smoother than Hoya's aluminum.  Hoyas tend to jam on your lens. 

And the B+W comes in a nice case. 

I feel Hoyas are a rip-off, priced 2x what a piece of glass and aluminum should cost... and they're infuriating to use.
B+Ws are also a rip-off, also priced 2x what a piece of glass and brass should cost... but they do their job very well and are a joy to use.

Lenses / Re: I can't believe I bought a $2000 prime.
« on: January 22, 2012, 10:30:36 AM »
Shop around a bit for a Leica... I bought my 85L after *almost* convincing myself that I needed an M9 and a couple lenses.  Man, I saved a ton of cash by getting that 85L and 35L.  Besides, you can always return it for 30 days, and they're going for $1600 on eBay... so really, you only paid $260 for that lens...   (at least that's what I keep telling myself :)

Lenses / Re: 50mm f/1.2L and 85 f/1.8 VS. 50 f/1.4 and 85 1.2L
« on: January 20, 2012, 09:40:41 AM »
I did exactly the same thing, for exactly the same rational... and I love my kit.

... except I have both the 85 1.8 and 85 1.2ii.  The 1.8 is exceptional, IQ is nearly as good as the 1.2 - and significantly smaller and lighter.  The 1.8 has been a long-trusted tool, and I haven't sold it yet.  But, magic happens between 1.2 and 1.8. 

On a budget, I think the first step is: 35L, 50/1.4, 85/1.8, 135L -  that's a sweet setup.  Then, if you like the 85 focal length and want an extra stop, upgrade.   

5D classics are going on eBay in the US for about $800 right now - a steal.  I bought one in December, upgrading from a 30D to a 5D.  And I spent the $1200 I saved (vs. a 5Dii) on a 35L.

Besides, bodies depreciate while glass holds its value.  Given a fixed budget, you get a lot more for your money long-term if you buy used body and spend the majority of your budget on good glass.

Lenses / Re: 35mm L vs. 135mm L. IQ?
« on: January 13, 2012, 04:23:35 PM »
You should have just confidently said 'this one, but only by about 6%'

(It doesn't matter which one you hold up... Your friend is not going to verify your numbers anyhow.)

After all, 78% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

EOS Bodies / Re: DSLRs are a dying breed, EVIL is the future!
« on: January 12, 2012, 03:04:28 PM »
I'm a two-system kinda guy.  I have my big-fast-prime system, and I have an always-with-me camera.

What I don't understand is that there seems to be a belief that big sensors require bigger bodies and bigger lenses. 

Back in the film days, I loved the Olympus Stylus Epic (aka MJII).

Here are the specs:
- Full Frame / ~20MP when loaded with Fuji Reala
- Weather Sealed
- 35mm f/2.8 lens (fantastically sharp and saturated)
- Jean-Pocket comfortable

That lens was tiny, bright, and full frame.

Now, I realize that big sensors are still very expensive, we are stuck in the mentality that every camera needs a screen - which adds thickness, cost, needs power and buttons.... so we need big batteries... and now that we have buttons, we really want full manual control and touch screens.

But if anyone built a digital version of the film Stylus Epic, I'd buy it... (but probably very few others, so I'm sure it won't happen). 

Canon started to... in their SD20... but alas, like your favorite shows, they discontinued it.

But my point is... I've owned a full frame camera with tiny lens that was wonderfully good. 
And EVIL doesn't have to replace SLR... if it can fit in a pocket, it can live comfortably alongside our air-cube cameras. 

We should rename SLR to LACS: Lens>Air Cube>Sensor

Portrait / Re: Candid portraits
« on: January 12, 2012, 11:05:37 AM »
Street photography in Bolivia, 85 1.8 on a 30D

... and about 1km under ground, in the Bolivian Silver Mines
24mm 2.8 on a 30D

Lenses / Re: Help choosing lenses for new 5D Mark II
« on: January 12, 2012, 12:45:08 AM »
You speak of architecture, landscape, and museums... all wide subjects.  I would start with the 35L - it's the lens I keep on my 5D.  It's also great for children.  You don't really have a lower priced option - the non L 35 is pretty clunky.   

Next, for your daughter, an 85 is great for portraits... I currently own both the 1.2 ($1850) and the 1.8 ($380).  Both are FANTASTIC, but honestly the 1.8 does almost everything the 1.2 does, one stop slower.  The 1.8 is a really high value lens (but I love my 1.2).  My advice is to get the 1.8, and upgrade to the 1.2 later if you really like the focal length. 

I also owned the 50 1.4 and the 50 1.2.  I think they're both great lenses, but I couldn't justify the price difference between the two so I returned the 1.2.  The 1.2 produces slightly better images, but I felt the big difference was build quality - If money were no object, go with the 1.2.  But since you specified a budget and the 1.4 is a very good option, I recommend the 1.4.     

The 135 is my street photography lens - I personally like it's ability to discretely capture portraits... but that's wasn't on your shot list, so I'd throw in a 17-40 f/4 L ... it's great for building interiors and museums - you can step in front of everyone and get shots without people.  It's not the fastest glass... but it's wonderfully sharp.   

So, my advice would be:
35 1.4 L
85 1.8
50 1.4
17-40 4 L

And that should be about $2800-$2900 by the time you add your filters.  Throw in a high quality Polarizer for your primes, and you're at $3000 and fully kitted. 

I also bought a 35L 3 weeks ago... fully aware of the rumor (I couldn't pass up the price, and it's a GREAT lens... if they announce a II tomorrow, it won't cease to be a great lens).   

Here are some test shots...

Lenses / Re: A set of lenses for around the world travel.
« on: December 27, 2011, 10:06:00 AM »
Hillsilly reminded me of a few key accessories you'll want to take for travel:

A cable lock (the type they use to lock skis).  It's cheap, small, and light - and you can creatively wrap the cable to lock spare gear in Armoires, drawers, etc (this will become your white-lens lock - because after awhile that's what will be left back at the hotel/hostel/etc).  If someone really wants your stuff, they can cut the cable... but people won't know what's in there - any you'll immediately know if someone broke in.  It gave me piece of mind.  And never store your spare lenses in a convenient bag with a handle... that's too easy for a thief to grab the entire kit.  Store stuff in big piles so a thief grabs one or two things and runs. 

Gaffers Tape.  You want to disguise your external hard drives - make them ugly; the last thing anyone would ever want to steal.  That's the problem with digital... in the old days, at least no one would steal your film... but now, hard drives and CF cards have value.  I considered spraying my hard drives with the same stuff they spray under cars to prevent corrosion... but it's sticky.  Gaffers tape and primer spray paint was my solution.  Also, get an online backup service... I uploaded my treasured jpgs there... at least, if everything was stolen, I'd have the jpgs.   Internet cafes also typically have a DVD burning service and you can periodically mail discs home to yourself.  And always have two hard drives... a backup, and a backup of your backup.  One of my drives went 'click' one day, near the end of a 4 month trip, with 10,000 images on it.  And that was that.  (Luckily I had a duplicate drive and lots of backups).

I also put black gaffers tape over the logos and the red rings on my camera when I'm in high theft areas (Gaffers tape is expensive, but it is designed for film gear and doesn't leave a sticky residue).  Honestly, I'm not sure it really helps - a thief will steal a camera regardless of value... but it makes me feel a little better. 

Sensor blower (e.g. Rocket).  Either bring one, or you'll end up buying one on your trip.

A discrete bag.  I used a Domke 803, and it holds a body with a 70-200 f/4 and a spare lens... and looks like a little messenger bag.  I just switched to an 831, which is a little bigger... but haven't put it to the test yet. 

I assume you'll have a compact camera as well... you better.  Many of my BEST shots came from my little compact... because it was always in my pocket.  But... I dropped into the Antarctic ocean while trying to climb an iceberg to get a shot of a penguin... which taught me to not use my cards to store images... get them off as soon as possible.

A Wolverine drive works well for that... and if you are on an expedition where someone got a great shot of you, you can always ask 'can I borrow your SD card for 5 minutes?  You can slip their card in your wolverine and grab all their shots... and it counts as one of your extra hard drives... and doubles as card reader.

Bring SD/CF recovery software.  I didn't... and I met way too many people who lost everything on their cards and were staying up all night trying to figure out how to recover their images.  Some of the memory cards include recovery software for free... bring it and save it on every device you have. 

anyway... hard won lessons from the field.


Lenses / Re: Canon 10-22 vs Canon 17-40
« on: December 24, 2011, 10:39:11 AM »
I own both...  I bought the 10-22 first, then the 17-40 (when it was on sale)... then upgraded to FF and will soon sell my 10-22. 

Both are great lenses - that's the upgrade path I followed, and it served me well.

Lenses / Re: A set of lenses for around the world travel.
« on: December 24, 2011, 10:23:25 AM »
I spent 4 months traveling through South America - and traveled light (one small backpack... 80% of it was camera gear, 10% was a bottle of wine, and the rest was for clothing.)

If you're interested, here's the blog I wrote on the way, so you can see my style of photography, and whether my recommendations are going to work for you:

I'll first tell you what I took... and then what I would take if I had to do it again.

Super wide: 10-22 (950)
Wide: 24mm 2.8 (450)
50mm short portrait (10)
85mm 1.8 long portrait (1300)
70-200 f/4 IS (1250)
1.4x (1400)

The numbers in the () are the number of shots that I actually took with that lens.  Back home, my favorite lens is the 50... but although I carried it for 4 months, I didn't really use it.  The 85 was far more useful for capturing photos of people, and interesting things because I could be more discrete.  That 85/1.8 really delivered. 

I used the 10-22 a LOT... but it only delivered 2 photos that are wall worthy.

I hated the 24mm.  It sounded like an electric razor... and although I loathed putting it on my camera, it had an exceptionally high wall rate... I have a love-hate relationship with all the photos this lens credits on my walls.

The 70-200 saw the most action, but realize that's the lens most likely to get motor-drived, but the important thing is that half of the shots had a 1.4x converter.

So, I recommend adding the awesome 85mm 1.8 and (sigh) the scratchy 24mm 2.8 to your kit.

Finally... consider a used 5D classic.  I just bought one off Ebay for $750 and bought the 35L (on sale now) to replace my 24 - I LOVE it! 

Lenses / Re: Prime Lenses
« on: December 21, 2011, 01:31:37 PM »
I'll revise my earlier post now that I know you already have some good glass.

When I had a cropped body, I had the following:
24/2.8 (street)
50/1.4 (candid/children/pets)
85/1.8 (portrait)

The 50 and 85 are awesome - and great value.  I strongly recommend getting those two lenses.

The 24/2.8 is annoying - it has an old micro motor focus and sounds like an electric shaver.  Although I hated using that lens and rarely put it on my camera, a very high percentage of the images that ever came through that piece of glass are now framed on my wall.

When I moved to a 5D, I sold the 24/2.8 and bought the 35/1.4, and I love it... amazing image quality and it just feels right. 

I also bought the 50/1.2, 85/1.2, and the 135/2.  I returned the 50/1.2 - I like the 1.4 better.  I kept both 85s - the 1.2 is more magical than the 1.8, but only about $500 more magical, which annoys me.  And the 135 is new... I'm still learning it.   

I'd say start with a 50mm 1.4 the add the 85 1.8.  Next, add the 24L if you still have a cropped body or 35L if you have a FF by then. 

And those "couple stops" make all the difference.  It add a level of three-dimensionality to your images that is really challenging with even a 2.8 lens. 

Lenses / Re: Prime Lenses
« on: December 20, 2011, 03:01:23 PM »
Primes are fantastic - better than any zoom lens out there. 

But start with the non-L primes.  You can get an entire set of non-Ls for less than a single L.  The a couple years from now, look back at your absolute favorite photos.  Whatever lenses you used to take them... that's where you start upgrading.

On a 7D, I say start with a 50 1.4 (portrait) and 24/2.8 (street/landscape).

Any day you're shooting, pick one prime and use it... keep the other in your bag - but you don't want to be switching lenses every shot you take - that defeats the purpose.   

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