Hi I'm new and I'm having trouble with deciding on which tripod I should buy, the 055xprob or the 190xprob? There are a few 190 variety of tripods from Manfrotto but I'm thinking of the 190xprob. Right now I'm thinking of buying the 055xprob in the near future. Only because I don't want to upgrade in the future and it holds more than the 190xprob does. I'm also looking to buy a flash, most likely the 580EX II as it's the most professional but I've also read that it has a few issues (I can't remember exactly, something with the hotshoe and something about the 430EX II being better than the 580EX II in some aspects.) I'm really hoping the 580EX III comes out soon - probably not in the foreseeable future If someone can point out the pros and cons and talk about their experience using these tripods/flashes it would help a lot. I've read heaps and heaps of reviews on amazon/adorama, etc.
I would like to do some portrait shots (and will buy a 'portrait' lens in the future) but I also want to go travelling (in the foreseeable future, most likely UK, Europe and USA) and buying a tripod would benefit me I think. I only have 1 camera (7D) and 2 lenses (my kit and walk around lens 18-200mm 3.5-5.6 IS lens and my 70-200mm 2.8 IS II lens). I will buy a 2nd and FF camera in the future (maybe 5D mark III).
Also if someone could tell me more about Adobe Lightroom as I'm interested in buying it - many people have told me it's better than photoshop as it's non-destructive and has a good gallery thing and good at renaming files. But I want to know a lot more before I buy this product. I'm currently using PS CS5 extended. But I've heard PS and Lightroom go hand-in-hand and work really well together. Any helpful information would be appreciated
All good questions that in one way or another crossed my mind over the last year after going digital and starting over with modern equipment.
Tripod: Oh, well. Start with the question if you really need one right now. If yes do a lot of research on this. For a serious camera (like your 7D with a 70-200 2.8 L) you need a serious tripod. You read all these stories how most of us start with some basic Manfrotto (or worse...) and then upgrade to the next level jsut to find out that they should have spend on something in the $1000 range in the first place. My Manfrotto story in short is that, yes, some of the high end stuff is ok and everything else is not really. Especially in cold weather their plastic clamps come apart. Happened to my several times. In fairness, after some back and forth they replaced my last tripod of the 190 variety for free. I keep this now for occasional use and very carefully. If I ever feel the need for using a tripod a lot more I'd probably look at some of the companies like Real Right Stuff and such. There are some slightly lower grade options available that have also gotten really good reviews by users. Can't remember their names right now.
580EXII: Went back and forth on that one. The only reasonable alternative seems to be the Metz 58 AF-2. The 580 has some know issues and there are many reports that it blows out under certain circumstances or for no obvious reason. A lot of this has been bot reported and disputed (look for the threads here with respect to the study done by Pocket Wizard). In the end I decided to go with the 580EXII and overall like it. I use it more often than my 430EXII because the wheel on the back is much nicer than the (sometimes non-responsive) buttons of the 430. The Metz has a few nice features (like a beep function similar to what Nikon offers) but in a direct comparison in the store the Canon felt a little more sturdy even though I've always been a Metz guy for the exact opposite reason. However, at this point I'd really wait a few months if possible and see if Canon really reworks their flash system which is really long overdue given the capabilities of the Nikon system. Flash systems and new 50mm lenses are the two things where I'm still hoping for something new and better in the near future and I'd be willing to upgrade at a loss.
Lens: Don't know what your preferences are. You have a great lens for the long range already that a lot of folks love for portraits. If you're planning to go full frame anyway soon you could invest in something to replace your EFs lens. Or add a good prime in your preferred focal range. Or just wait until you really go full frame since often things are more economical as a "kit" (like the 5DII with the 24-105 or so).
Lightroom: That's another "oh, well". Been there and I'm back at it again. Back then when I needed to upgrade from Photoshop 7 to something that supports CR2 files I went back and forth over this. For full disclosure: I'm eligible for an educator discount so we're talking about different variances here when it comes to money.
I couldn't be sold on the "LR3 does everything even a pro ever needs" idea. LR3 does a lot of editing really well. It even does some things differently and rather nicely that Photoshop CS5/camera raw does not do. But some things I would personally miss, e.g. real Doge and Burn options and real layers. Also I don't like the "non-destructive" database approach which is really the whole idea. Creates more clutter in my "work flow".
Notwithstanding, I actually just picked up a copy of LR3 in addition to my CS5 photoshop. It is nice for two things: working on batches of photos and some of the export functions namely to zenfolio. Other things I still find weird like the fact that it doesn't allow you to sync up two databases (as far as I know yet) if you work on more than one computer. CS5 of course doen't do that either but in my workflow I always keep a seperate folder for all edited files that I can sync and backup easily. If I work on a file on my laptop when I'm not at home - or several - than I always have to export a copy much like I would save things in CS5. So no gain really on that end. And then I find myself open things in PS anyway often because there I know what to find where (sort of). If you already have CS5 you are all set. No need to add LR3 really unless you are working on a lot of stuff at once or export a lot to places like zenfolio (no plug in for PS available...). With current prices for LR3 you may throw it in just for laughs and giggles and then qualify for the upgrade to LR4 if that is anything mind blowing (which I doubt). Same doubt about anything "mind blowing" I also have regarding any 5DII replacement. With current deals it may be worth considering the upgrade to full frame now rather than later. I'm semi-seriously debating storing away a second 5dII since I don't expect any improvements with future models that I'd personally find useful. YMMV of course with respect to all topics above. Enjoy.