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Author Topic: Buying a Camera  (Read 12002 times)

pinnaclephotography

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Re: Buying a Camera
« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2011, 04:51:46 PM »
I love your stuff pinnacle but "crushes" is a bit of a stretch to say the least.

"Despite its technical obsolescence, the image output of original 5D still crushes any crop sensor out there for landscape work.  The lack of sensor cleaning and live view are the most significant drawbacks.  But if you really want to get into landscape photography, the 5D classic is the most economical route to get the best output."

I'm not trying to start a flame war or anything, I'm just detailing why I claimed what I did.  I stand by what I said for the following reasons.

1) The 5D has cleaner images at every ISO setting compared to any APS-C camera.  This has additional benefits for long exposures or when doing landscape work under windy conditions.  The ability to shoot clean, motion blur free landscapes (if needed) with ISO-800-1000 is very handy in a pinch.  We have all been there when the light is perfect but the trees and foliage won't stay still (assuming you want them to be still).  Full frame sensors in general are roughly 1.5-2 stops cleaner throughout their ISO range.

2) Sharper output.  The original 5D has a rather weak anti-aliasing filter which results in significantly sharper images at a per-pixel level.

3) ISO-50 allows for longer exposures under the same lighting conditions (particularly useful for waterfalls). This also lets you use the f/8-f/11 range, allowing one to avoid the diffraction riddled f/16 and smaller apertures.

4) Better ultra wide angle options than APS-C.  While APS-C is undeniably useful for wildlife, sports, and other telephoto applications, the platform suffers at the wide end.  I know some people will disagree here, and people's satisfaction with lens output varies significantly...but when making 20x30 prints, it becomes obvious rather quickly when a lens is falling short of ideal performance.

All the 10-22/24mm zooms are less than stellar (the Canon is probably the best at 10mm), and while many fisheye lenses are suitably wide, they are a poor substitute for a true wide angle.  The Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 and perhaps the 12-24mm f/4 are probably the best APS-C options available.  Once one moves to more moderate focal lengths the situation becomes much better.  The Canon 17-55 f/2.8 and Tamron 17-50 (original, non-stabilized version) work well.

Full frame however is a rather different story.  While the more obvious 17-40L and 16-35L are still rather disappointing, on full frame the suitable options list is much larger than APS-C.  The Samyang 14mm f/2.8 is truly excellent in resolution and price (less so for distortion), the Zeiss 2.8/21, 2/28, and 2/35 (it is perhaps a bit too soon to tell on the 1.4/35) all are great for landscape work (with the 2.8/21 maintaining somewhat legendary status), the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 performs well (the downside is the domed front element, preventing practical filter use), and lastly the tilt and shift 17 and 24mm options from Canon are both excellent.

Lastly, and this is my opinion, I will mention that most primes seem to be more satisfactory at their true focal length than with crop.  I'm sure others will disagree about this.

5) The larger sensor size helps convey a greater sense of depth than smaller, APS-C offerings.  The larger the sensor/film size, usually the more 3 dimensional a shot will feel.  Comparatively, APS-C and smaller sensors have very flat looking output (to my eye at least).  Lenses also play a significant factor here (the Zeiss 2/35 comes to mind).

So those are my reasons for regarding full frame as superior for landscape applications.  I consider the 5D (classic) to be the best bargain in the camera word right now...It does have disadvantages, which considering it's age in the digital world is hardly surprising.  If one can get by without sensor cleaning, live view, and a spiffy new LCD screen, the 5D classic is certainly worth considering.

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Re: Buying a Camera
« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2011, 04:51:46 PM »

ions

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Re: Buying a Camera
« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2011, 05:23:13 PM »
None of that is news to me and I only disagree with a few things there, and not even completely. Minor points not worth quibbling over. The real problem is they don't add up to "crushes" for the vast majority of people. Most of the time when people whine and cry about the superiority of FF they don't back it up with great images. You would be a rare exception. Could your stuff have been done with a crop? Maybe. It'd be a tough go though and some filters would help. Other problem is, and the bigger issue for me at least, is the 7D for example, is a better camera in every way other than the sensor than the 5D II and that's the 5D II. There are also a bunch of perks related to APSC that I'm not gonna list here cause it's a lame debate. Although the sensor is a massively important part of the camera, particularly for landscape, it is not the complete camera. Would I like a 5dII? Sure, great camera, but the 7Ds versatility is greater and undeniable.

My point in pointing out that "crushes" is a vast overstatement was not really directed at you, in fact it was for other readers of this thread who come across it in the hopes that they don't fall for the weak and easy FF fanaticism that is far too rampant on the boards. Look on flickr and you'll see people with older Rebels, 30Ds or whatever else still pulling off kickbutt stuff. What makes a good landscape camera? An owner that points it at great landscapes. Yes yes, by that reasoning every tourist would be a great photographer but you gotta admit without pretty places there are no pretty photos. A new Rebel, 60D whatever is quite capable of beautiful landscapes and many other things that a used warrantlyless piece of equipment is not quite as capable of that new users may appreciate.
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Re: Buying a Camera
« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2011, 06:23:40 PM »
Just a personal opinion here, but I recently had to decide between a 5D mark II and a 7D... I researched the heck out of it and waited months for a 5d mark III that never came. I chose the 5D mark II and after the very first day with it said I'm never using a crop sensor DSLR again! It's just that good. Plus, when I do get a 5d Mark III in the future, I will have a FF backup camera.

pinnaclephotography

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Re: Buying a Camera
« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2011, 09:06:17 PM »
None of that is news to me and I only disagree with a few things there, and not even completely. Minor points not worth quibbling over. The real problem is they don't add up to "crushes" for the vast majority of people. Most of the time when people whine and cry about the superiority of FF they don't back it up with great images. You would be a rare exception. Could your stuff have been done with a crop? Maybe. It'd be a tough go though and some filters would help. Other problem is, and the bigger issue for me at least, is the 7D for example, is a better camera in every way other than the sensor than the 5D II and that's the 5D II. There are also a bunch of perks related to APSC that I'm not gonna list here cause it's a lame debate. Although the sensor is a massively important part of the camera, particularly for landscape, it is not the complete camera. Would I like a 5dII? Sure, great camera, but the 7Ds versatility is greater and undeniable.

My point in pointing out that "crushes" is a vast overstatement was not really directed at you, in fact it was for other readers of this thread who come across it in the hopes that they don't fall for the weak and easy FF fanaticism that is far too rampant on the boards. Look on flickr and you'll see people with older Rebels, 30Ds or whatever else still pulling off kickbutt stuff. What makes a good landscape camera? An owner that points it at great landscapes. Yes yes, by that reasoning every tourist would be a great photographer but you gotta admit without pretty places there are no pretty photos. A new Rebel, 60D whatever is quite capable of beautiful landscapes and many other things that a used warrantlyless piece of equipment is not quite as capable of that new users may appreciate.

ions, you raised some good points and your right, the bottleneck imposed by either the photographer or the camera is one where the blame is usually cast upon the camera, not the one wielding it.  Many people seem to think that getting a better camera will automatically make them a better photographer.  In reality, a camera with a better sensor will be more capable, but only if one uses it properly.  Thanks by the way for the complement.

I guess the heart of the issue is really what people consider important in a landscape camera (since this is the landscape zone of the forum) as opposed to more typical blend of photography genres.  I wholeheartedly recommend the 5D for landscape (and natural light portrait) work... but if someone wanted a camera to document their kid's soccer game (or anything that requires fast operation) there is no way I'd recommend it...it all depends on what the task at hand is.

For most landscape work most of the undeniably nice things about the 7D really are not needed, so while it is a great camera for general use and better still for fast moving subjects...for landscape it is no better than a rebel with the same sensor, aside from ergonomics/viewfinder issues.  The 7D is a generalist; it does all things quite well, but is not exceptional at anything in particular.  The 5D on the other hand is a specialist.  It is exceptional at a couple things (when sensor related image quality is paramount) and nearly impossible at times for others.

So for landscape work, one really doesn't need fast autofocus (I manual focus most of the time...my wide angle lenses are manual focus only); metering is important, but basically all DSLRs do a good job at that so it is somewhat moot.  Weather sealing is important for landscape but under averse conditions, most people just stick their camera in a clear plastic bag to keep the rain/snow out.  I think the biggest advantage of recent cameras relative to landscape work has got to be live-view with superior LCD screens, which makes tripod shooting much, much easier when shooting at weird angles.  But #1 for landscape is the output from the sensor, which the 5D has in spades.  It may be lacking for almost everything else, but it does have the capability for very high image quality (for the price), which was the main point I was driving at earlier.

From my personal experience using APS-C cameras (XTi/400D and 40D) I know that aspects of both cameras were holding me back...the most pronounced were static and flat output and not being able to get visually acceptable (personal preference I know) images beyond ISO-400 for the XTi and ISO-800 for the 40D.  Comparatively, output from my 5D takes post processing much better than either the XTi or 40D did.

But since this thread was about what camera people should buy, here are my recommendations, in ascending value order, for landscape work.
45D/Rebel XSi (good sensor, inexpensive)
600D/Rebel T3i (good sensor, great pivoting screen for tripod use)
60D (same reasons as above, but better ergonomics/viewfinder)
5D (excellent sensor and image quality potential, cheap entry to full frame, AF and operation speed are sub-par)
Anything more expensive (aside from the 5D mkII) is probably a mis-allocation of money unless you already are bumping into a IQ bottleneck and are in a position where your lenses are better than your sensor can resolve.  If a person has money to burn, they might as well get a 7D/5D mkII, but I think it is better to save some money on the camera and either put it towards better lenses or travel to suitably awesome landscape locations.

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Re: Buying a Camera
« Reply #19 on: July 22, 2011, 01:38:49 PM »
Agreed, ultimately it is about what camera works best for a particular person. The large majority of amateurs are buying cameras for all their shooting, the idea of more than 1 body is a luxury they're not going to indulge in. Getting the camera that can handle all one's needs really should be the goal of someone just getting into photography. Especially if they have to ask the question "what camera should I get?"

I gotta disagree with you on some points though. Particularly "mis-allocation" :). The 7D makes itself a good landscape camera simply for the weather sealing. A MASSIVELY important issue in landscape photography. Mine has been in pouring rain and blizzards. It has better sealing than the 5D does I believe... not positive on that. It's also far more customizable than the 5D or the Rebels, XXD series cameras etc. Plus it has a much more rugged build that can be relied upon than the Rebels/XXD series cameras which is also important when shooting landscape. Yeah, I take care of my gear but it's nice to know my gear can take care of itself.

I disagree with you about the need for AF in Landscape. The 7D, and the Rebels, XXD do not come with good focus screens for manual. If you're as blind as I am and have difficulty jamming your glasses wearing face into the viewfinder, especially when trying to get real low to the ground, having an autofocus you can trust is priceless. On my recent trip to Yellowstone the AF on my 24-70 went wonky and I had to shoot manual. Because of the above situation I have a couple of shots that are softer than they should be. In the bright sun they looked ok from the back screen, which, on the 7D is quite superior to the 5Ds(just sayin), but when I got them home, a little off. And when you want an AF system you can trust the 7D is really really hard to beat once you're learned it. Although, I do concede it's not crucial that it's fantastic for landscape.

The other thing the crop sensors get dinged with all the time is "it's not wide enough!!! waaaa!" Sometimes the waaaa really is there. ;) That depends on how you shoot doesn't it? I tend to shoot on the longer side. The extra reach I get on the crop with my 70-200 has proven useful many times. I recently bought a 24-70 in the face of "it's not good on a crop" type BS. "It's not gonna be wide enough for you!!" The kicker? The difference in view between the 24-70 on my camera and full frame is one 12" step back. One. Not kidding. I tested and measured. Fine, if I were in a cramped room and had a wall at my back it would be an issue. For me that's not a problem because if I were in that situation I'd be looking for the door so I could get outside and shoot something good. But that's me, I understand the need for shooting indoors sometimes, but this is the landscape area right? :D On my recent trip to Yellowstone and Banff I pulled my Tokina 11-16 out of the bag only a handful of times because the 24-70 was wide enough for what I wanted. The times that it wasn't wide enough were times that it also wouldn't have been wide enough on a FF camera either. An UWA was what was needed.

I can't disagree with you that the 5D/II has a superior sensor and can output a better picture. My issue is that you're talking about the very pointy end of needs that not everyone, very few, will properly take advantage of. I can't count all the times I've heard people whine about needing full frame and the fact is they suck. Now, them aside some of your points while valid aren't particularly important and provide only the most modest of advantages. Advantages so modest that better glass should be considered before thinking that these advantages are particularly worthwhile. You notice them, I notice them but really only a small percentage of people notice them. The Nikon guys do very well not having ISO 50 for example. I'm quite happy with ISO 100. That's just one thing, I'm not going to go through them all because it's pointless to and it's been done so many times before.

While I'm reluctant to post my images alongside yours as quite clearly you are talented (and how much of the quality of your images do you really want to put down to the camera?). Because you are quite good, I've looked through your flickr, fantastic stuff it makes you frustrating to argue this point with. And, actually, this is the crux of it. Most people who debate these points aren't as capable as you. Not everyone is gonna pick up a 5D and get the stuff you have. There's just no way. Most are gonna whine about their perceived limitations of crop and then HDR the poo out of everything they shoot in the face of good taste and to the detriment of my retina. I can confidently say that cause I've seen it now, sadly, literally hundreds of times. I post the following only to suggest that someone with a year and a half of experience in digital and hopefully a kernel of talent somewhere can get some decent results out of a crop sensor.

All were taken with the 7D and are single exposures, no filters (man I'd love me a Lee setup), and processed in Lightroom, which I'm getting better with but still learning. I still feel there's more I can be getting out of this camera/sensor before I start worrying about lower ISO, better dynamic range, etc.

Some of these are double posts from the Landscapes thread, sorry about that.


The Grand Teton Mountains from Colter Bay, Wyoming, USA by Christopher Brian's Photography, on Flickr


Sunset North of Thermopolis Wyoming, USA by Christopher Brian's Photography, on Flickr


Flooding in Macoun, Southern Saskatchewan, Canada by Christopher Brian's Photography, on Flickr


Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada (Explored!) by Christopher Brian's Photography, on Flickr


Autumn at Rattlesnake Point, Milton, Ontario by Christopher Brian's Photography, on Flickr


Ultra Wide Angle Lake Erie Sunset at Nanticoke Ontario by Christopher Brian's Photography, on Flickr


Albion Falls, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada by Christopher Brian's Photography, on Flickr
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pinnaclephotography

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Re: Buying a Camera
« Reply #20 on: July 23, 2011, 01:01:12 AM »
The 7D makes itself a good landscape camera simply for the weather sealing. A MASSIVELY important issue in landscape photography. Mine has been in pouring rain and blizzards. It has better sealing than the 5D does I believe... not positive on that. It's also far more customizable than the 5D or the Rebels, XXD series cameras etc. Plus it has a much more rugged build that can be relied upon than the Rebels/XXD series cameras which is also important when shooting landscape. Yeah, I take care of my gear but it's nice to know my gear can take care of itself.

I agree, weather sealing is important and can be VERY reassuring to have in the field.  The 7D certainly is rugged; when I looked at store models they all seemed impressively solid (my 5D creaks a bit near the LCD when I grip it tight).  To my knowledge, the 7D and 5D mkII have very similar weather sealing (with the exception of the optional grip for the 5D mkII, which apparently has problems in the rain) and both are vastly more protected than my 5D classic.  That being said, and despite having operated frequently in the snow (there was roughly 25 feet of snow each winter where I went to school) I've never been in a situation where I was seriously worried about precipitation trashing my equipment.  The situation was either so bad it would trash even a pro body like a 1D or D3 series camera or something flimsy like a Rebel/XXXD would survive.  One must also consider that unless one also has lenses with weather seals too they will still be open to compromise...

That being said, the only time I've really been worried for my camera was either slipping in a stream and being completely submersed (the camera is toast no matter what you do) or being sprayed by saltwater.  As a cheap "insurance" I keep a plastic bag with my camera so I can protect it if I suddenly am stuck in a rainstorm.  I haven't needed it yet, but it is a reassuring thing to keep around.

Perhaps I've just been lucky, but lousy weather has yet to harm my relatively poorly weather sealed equipment.  I'm sure those who have had problems will be much more paranoid.

I disagree with you about the need for AF in Landscape. The 7D, and the Rebels, XXD do not come with good focus screens for manual. If you're as blind as I am and have difficulty jamming your glasses wearing face into the viewfinder, especially when trying to get real low to the ground, having an autofocus you can trust is priceless. On my recent trip to Yellowstone the AF on my 24-70 went wonky and I had to shoot manual. Because of the above situation I have a couple of shots that are softer than they should be. In the bright sun they looked ok from the back screen, which, on the 7D is quite superior to the 5Ds(just sayin), but when I got them home, a little off. And when you want an AF system you can trust the 7D is really really hard to beat once you're learned it. Although, I do concede it's not crucial that it's fantastic for landscape.

We can agree to disagree on AF then, in the context of landscape.  When I do use autofocus, it is the single center point (the only good one) and then I recompose.  For portraits focus shift would cause issues, but for landscape at f/8 or f/11 no problems are caused.  Unless you are moving the focus points around constantly, the camera is probably just going to pick whatever spot has the most contrast in your scene, which may or may not be what you as the photographer actually want for the focus point.  Regardless of how capable a camera's autofocus may be, it still is not clairvoyant and as such can never be fully trusted.

I have glasses too.  Yes, it sucks for photography, particularly when they (or the viewfinder) fogs up.  The advantage of the 5D in this respect is that the viewfinder is pretty darn big, so even if you cannot get as close with glasses, you can still work effectively.  I'd guess the 5D viewfinder is twice the size as the Rebel/XXXD pentamirror viewfinders...now those are impossible to work with.

I think the biggest manual focusing problem with Canon is that the lenses are designed for autofocus first, with manual focus as a low priority.  I've yet to find a autofocusing Canon lens that I like for manual focus work as the focus rings are so [list several languages worth of obscenities] imprecise.  The lack of a hard infinity stop makes manual focus landscape work way harder than it needs to be.

I really miss having a tilt/pivot screen like my first camera (a Canon point-n-shoot S3 IS), that thing was downright handy for tripod work.  The 60D/T3i/600D win points in the tripod-ease-of-use category.  I suppose it would further your argument by telling you that my mountain shot was a composition/focus guess.

The Mountain by posthumus_cake (www.pinnaclephotography.net), on Flickr
I WAS NOT looking through the viewfinder for this shot.  Nor did I use a tripod, as the hillside was sufficiently steep that the tripod would just tumble downhill.  To put things in perspective, the largest/closest flower, (an avalanche lily) was about 8 inches (or 20 cm) from the front of my lens.  I had to look at the scene through the viewfinder, prefocus, switch the focus to manual to keep it from moving, and lastly, point my camera at all those nice avalanche lilies without looking through the viewfinder and press the shutter while hoping for the best.  I knew the composition that I wanted, but that I wouldn't be able to see it through the viewfinder (with the foreground flowers at least)...so I had to shoot this shot about 50 times until everything was lined up perfectly.  This would have been much easier using a 60D/600D/T3i and that wonderful tilting LCD screen and live view.

Most are gonna whine about their perceived limitations of crop and then HDR the poo out of everything they shoot in the face of good taste and to the detriment of my retina. I can confidently say that cause I've seen it now, sadly, literally hundreds of times.

LOL, I don't think I've ever heard a more accurate statement about the abuse of HDR.  I agree completely.  HDR has a place, but most people don't use it as intended; a means to bypass the dynamic range limitations of a scene or of their camera.  Most just use it as an excuse to induce a nice pleasant brain hemorrhage in anyone with a sense of taste.

By the way, I like your Banff shot of Moraine Lake...someday I'll have to go there...but for now I'll have to stick with saving up for Glacier National Park.[/list]

ions

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Re: Buying a Camera
« Reply #21 on: July 23, 2011, 01:00:38 PM »
Whenever weather sealing and the 7D are mentioned together I think of this Youtube review where the guy puts the camera in the shower with a 24-70 attached! In the shower!! Makes me laugh every time. I'll take his word for it that the camera is... shower ready.  :o And yeah, as you said, I've been pretty lucky with poorly sealed equipment too. For the longest time I shot with three older Sigma EX lenses which do not have any sealing and they were fine. There are always freak occurrences but I think for the most part the average user is over-protective of their equipment in terms or weather. A good thing.

That's more or less how I use AF as well except with a slight twist that is specific to 7D focusing. This is of course dependent on what I'm shooting. I can trust the AF on that to do everything I've tried so far. Once I figured it out and got the custom functions where I wanted them - which did not happen overnight. Too many people on forums are blaming the cameras for their reluctance to climb the learning curve.

Another thing to consider is video. Yeah, if you're going to do video get a proper video setup and blah blah bah. First of all there are many people doing amazing stuff with these improper video setups. I personally don't care much for video except for one aspect. It's there if I want to capture a moment of a loved one, a chance encounter with wildlife etc. Will any of my videos be among those doing amazing stuff? No, I'm more interested in taking stills, but I have many times taken a video of a scene just so I can say "hey mom, check this out" and her appreciation of it is well worth having the video. Not a big deal and not landscape photography-centric, but it's there if I need it.

I can't speak to the Rebels/60D but I do know the viewfinder on the 7D is just a touch darker than the 5D II with the same lens attached on each. People who have those cameras (not the 60D) that have checked out mine have noted that the 7D viewfinder is brighter than their cameras. I feel a bit bad flogging the 7D the way I have considering the OP didn't list it as an option... oh well :)  I guess I'm trying to say is what the 7D is best at is that it does a lot of things very well.


I WAS NOT looking through the viewfinder for this shot.  Nor did I use a tripod, as the hillside was sufficiently steep that the tripod would just tumble downhill.  To put things in perspective, the largest/closest flower, (an avalanche lily) was about 8 inches (or 20 cm) from the front of my lens.  I had to look at the scene through the viewfinder, prefocus, switch the focus to manual to keep it from moving, and lastly, point my camera at all those nice avalanche lilies without looking through the viewfinder and press the shutter while hoping for the best.  I knew the composition that I wanted, but that I wouldn't be able to see it through the viewfinder (with the foreground flowers at least)...so I had to shoot this shot about 50 times until everything was lined up perfectly.  This would have been much easier using a 60D/600D/T3i and that wonderful tilting LCD screen and live view.

The articulating screens look handy but I worry about the long term durability of them. Time and subsequent designs will tell I guess. Have you looked into back button focusing? Fantastic tool when you need to recompose as you have described.

Thanks documentaryman.  All three are single exposure, while using a circular polarizer and graduated neutral density filters.  The first shot is basically straight out of camera, minus a few dust and water spots that I removed.  I don't do HDR.

After seeing these images, I am convinced now I need to add a graduated neutral density filter to my camera gear.

Amen to that! The price and limited availability of the Lee system makes me want to cry. Definitely a long term investment. Having a good filter set and using it properly certainly minimizes the amount of post processing work required. A ND grad alone would cut my post processing time in half!
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Re: Buying a Camera
« Reply #21 on: July 23, 2011, 01:00:38 PM »

pinnaclephotography

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Re: Buying a Camera
« Reply #22 on: July 23, 2011, 11:56:09 PM »
Amen to that! The price and limited availability of the Lee system makes me want to cry. Definitely a long term investment. Having a good filter set and using it properly certainly minimizes the amount of post processing work required. A ND grad alone would cut my post processing time in half!

When Lee is not available, consider Hitech.  Sure, they are not as good as Lee...but they are much higher quality than Cokin and are still reasonably affordable.  I haven't had any particular color cast problems with them.  The Lee filter bracket is definitely the one to go with though...I got it cheap at a gear swap a while back but no Lee filters. 

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Re: Buying a Camera
« Reply #23 on: July 24, 2011, 01:28:50 AM »
Thank you, I've heard that advice a few times now. Something I will look into.
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Re: Buying a Camera
« Reply #24 on: August 22, 2011, 02:23:07 AM »
The 18-135mm lens has a nice span and works great as a 'training' lens. However, it suffers badly from chromatic aberration which needs to be fixed in post-processing, no exceptions. But to start out with it's good.
I am at a stage where I could happily lose that lens and move on to wither the 10-20mm EF-S lens for landscapes, but it is crazy expensive and will restrict me in the future for any upgrades I might want to do.
But, get the lens in a bundle, use it, get to know it and the camera and you'll be a happier photographer.  ;D
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Re: Buying a Camera
« Reply #24 on: August 22, 2011, 02:23:07 AM »