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Author Topic: Lenses for crop AND full-frame bodies (starting up my photography business)  (Read 4853 times)

pixyl

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With the intention of starting up my own photography business I'm slowly upgrading my gear with that in mind and am having a hard time deciding on lenses.

The initial plan was to upgrade straight from my Rebel XT to a 5D3, but at the time it wasn't yet available and I ruled out the 5D2 because of the AF issue/old technology and knowing that something better was coming along "soon". So in the meantime I decided an intermediate solution would be to upgrade to a second hand "prosumer" SLR, just to get the hang of a camera with "pro" controls and features as well as better IQ. I ended up with a 50D with a battery grip. My current lens lineup is:

  • Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 DC -not very happy with neither the IQ nor build.
  • Canon 70-200 f/4L -I love this lens. Build quality and IQ is excellent IMHO but with 1.6x crop the reach is a bit much for general use, so it doesn't get much use unfortunately.
  • Canon 35 f/2 -I got this in order to replace much of the Sigma 17-70 use, better light-sensitivity and in order to start out with primes. It's OK but not great -noisy focusing, cheap build and feel nor does the IQ blow me away (perhaps I expected a bit more than what could be delivered for the price).

I'll be shooting a little bit of everything: portraits, products/advertising, school/kindergarten group shots, events, real estate etc. and when I get more experienced perhaps weddings.
The 70-200 feels like a keeper, especially when I go FF even though most pros seem to go for the f/2.8 version.
For "general use" I had my eyes set on the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L but have been waiting for much the same reason as the body: knowing that a mark II was about to be released. Now that it has been announced along with the hefty pricetag I'm considering other options:

  • Canon 24-105 f/4L IS -seems solid and well built, has a good feel to it and although online reviews differ a lot it seems like a great contender. The IS should be very useful for still-standing subjects in less than perfect lighting.
  • Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II -I haven't ruled it out though it'd better be twice as good as the first version for that price!
  • Canon 24-70 f/2.8L (first version) -thousands of pros can't all be wrong when using it. When the version II gets released I assume its price will drop drastically, but I'm a little hesitant as I read a lot of people find it a "mediocre" lens despite the "L" designation
  • Canon 17-55 f/2.8 IS -not an "L" lens, but possibly an intermediate lens until I go FF. Lots of reviews/reader comments say it's essentially a lens with "L-quality" but with a consumer build
  • A combination of a zoom and one or two primes

I've ruled out the Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC because I've gotten the taste of L lenses and rather want to invest in "keepers" rather than "probably just as good". I understand lots of people will disagree with this view.

My conclusion (if you've read this far  ;) ):
I think my money might be best spent if investing in a good zoom for allround/general use and a couple of fast primes. I'm aiming for lots of Speedlite/studio strobe rather than "I don't care for (I don't know how to use) flash", so I probably don't need superfast lenses for everything. I wasn't entirely blown away with the low-light capabilities of shooting at f/2 with my 35mm, but again I was probably expecting it to perform miracles. Even with an f/1.2 or f/1.4 of some sort I assume I'll have to crank up the ISO and/or in combination with a flash.

But which lenses would be good for both crop and FF use? Even when I get the 5D3 (an "entry level FF" (whatever that means) is also rumored, perhaps worth looking into) the 50D will probably be a nice backup body. Still, I'll be losing out on wide-angle with most of those FF-designed lenses but could buy a second hand Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 and sell it when I get the FF, hopefully without any/much loss.
Or... should I go an entirely different route and buy second hand EF-S lenses just for the 50D now, then buy separate L lenses for the FF when I get it?
Sorry for the long post  :o
50D w/BG-E2 | 24-70 f/2.8L II | 70-200 f/2.8L IS II | 70-200 f/4L | 35 f/2 | Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 | Sigma 50 f/1.4 | 580EX II | 430EX

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chas1113

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Pixyl:

Sounds like you will be following the two-body/two format strategy I eventually adopted: slow zooms/fast primes. I started off with a 10D, upgraded to a 40D after having shot full frame 35mm film for decades. It wasn't until I got a 5DMkII that I was really satisfied with digital. Until the money starts rolling in and you can afford to get the big (f/2.8) guns, the "baby L" zooms are the way to go. EF 17-40mm L, EF 24-105mm L IS and EF 70-200mm f/4 (either flavor). As far as fast primes, there are two basic schools of thought: 35-85-135 or 24-50-100. When I shot film, I had a 24-50-100 trinity on Nikon because I liked shooting macro/portrait with the 100mm. That part hasn't changed for me. I have the 24L, 50 1.4 and the 100 L IS. The bonus with this trinity is that it is my preferred focal lengths on full frame, and provides me with 35-ish/85-ish/135-ish on the APS-C body. So, in my mind it's kinda the best of both worlds and provides image stabilization in place of the 135L (I still lust after that lens, though). The zooms are much lighter than their f/2.8 big brothers for hiking and walking around, "sharp enough" and don't require you investing in super expensive 82mm filters. In studio, the 24-105mm with lighting is virtually identical to the 24-70L stopped down and from everything I've read, seems to be more consistent in IQ from copy to copy. If you buy wisely (my three zooms -- one refurb, one kit, one used -- cost me what a brand new EF 70-200mm L IS II would have). Just my two cents.

-chas
« Last Edit: August 28, 2012, 07:29:18 PM by chas1113 »
5D III | 5DII | Fuji X-E1 | EF 17-40 | EF 24-105 | EF 35 IS | EF 50 f/1.4 | EF 100L | EF 70-300L | EF 100-300L | EF 300 f/4 IS

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I vote for the 17-55 f/2.8 IS.  It is nice to be able to have the option of shallower DOF.  The 24-105 is better suited for FF, and it is more attractively priced as part of a kit.  I would get a used/refurbed 17-55 now and sell it later when you upgrade to the 5DIII/24-105 kit.

If you are willing to carry two bodies, then getting the 10-22 makes sense.  It performs better than the 17-40, and is much less expensive than the 16-35 II.  There are many good UWA crop options, and they are more affordable than FF versions.

Videoshooter

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Regarding the 24-70, I wouldn't necessarily expect a price drop for the old model when the version II comes out. Already I've seen huge price increases locally, which I would expect to continue even after the new model is released, for two likely reasons:

1) People are now willing to pay a higher price than before for the old version, simply because they want to avoid the almost extortionaite prices for the version II. Even though they're paying more, it's still the lesser of two evils.

2) Stock will run out but demand will not, because there will be plenty of people not willing to pay for the new version, so used prices will rise.

If you are happy to use flash when needed then the 24-105 f/4L should serve you well.
If you are seriously thinking about doing weddings eventually, you might want to consider trading your 70-200 f/4 for either the f/4 IS or the for the f/2.8 version. Weddings can be really dark and for many of the things you'll want the 70-200 for, flash will be too far away to help. Having an extra stop (or 2-3 stops, with IS) to play with really can help you get the shot.

And don't forget a 50mm! Even if it's just a 50mm f/1.8, it's great to have one in the kit at all times.
5dmkII, 60D, 70-200mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, Sigma 150-500mm.

CharlieB

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With all the choices available....my God, its a wonder how we made any money at all shooting with a Hasselblad and three lenses, non of which were overly fast, or zooms.   The few product shots got done with a Cambo in 4x5 with a old Nikkor 210, and there were a few Nikon and/or Canon 35mm with 28mm lenses for receptions and conventions.   A couple of 283 flashes, a slave eye, a bracket, a small card for "soft" and that was it.

Too many choices today.  Harumph....

benherman

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Shooting a bit of everything isn't a great idea for a business plan. I suggest you target a market and get good at that kind of photography so you have a good product to sell to that market. I have dreams of selling my fine art stuff, being a photojournalist, a landscape photographer...but for a successful commercial business, its a good idea to become a master ofone or two fields. Not saying you should turn down any opportunities you might have in other fields. If it is going to be portraiture, get a portrait kit, if it is going to be real estate get a real estate kit...you can always hire gear for other jobs.

I shoot weddings and events in my business. It involves some portraiture, i dont have a studio and i work from home. Im still building my business. I have

2 x 5d mii bodies - great iq, allows me to shoot in the dark, allows amazing wide angle shots, back up if one dies, also can save time swapping lenses
24-105 - great walk around lens, put a flash on it and you can shoot a whole event - unfortunately rarely used now. Was first lens bought with 5dii. No regrets. Great iq.versatile. Fast at
16-35 - great for everything wide, but beware distortion in portraits. Landscapes, architecture, group shots, environmental portraits all covered. Pretty sharp, except at corners. Almost always on one of my cameras.fast af
Sigma 50 1.4 - replaced dodgy canon version-do not buy canons 50 1.4- sigma sharper and built better. Everyone probably will need a lens like this - fast to shoot in dark and allows shallow dof. Consider an 85mm. Af a bit slow in low light.
100mm macro- got the non L one, still sharp as, but it's a specialist lens, doesn't get much use.
70-200is ii. The killer lens. Portraits BAM! Archictectural details BAM! Sports BAM! Concerts,weddings, events BAM! It has everything, sharpness speed, worth the $3000 i paid for it when it came out.

Also have two 580exii and lots of accessories to control light, even though I use natural light wherever I can.

Think well about what you want to specialize in, there are so many options, but it helps to have gear that works for a particular job. My 16-35, 50 and 70-200 go with me everywhere. When I first started shooting seriously I could get by with just the 24-105.

Hope that's useful.

pixyl

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Thanks for all those replies!
Anyone used the Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 DC? How do the Canon zooms compare in both build and IQ? (I'm talking about the 17-55 f/2.8 IS, 24-70 f/2.8L and 24-105 f/4L IS). Buying a used/refurbished 17-55 might seem like the smartest choice for now, as I'm just starting out and have a crop sensor, but depending of course on what kind of build (and more importantly in terms of building up a happy customer base: the IQ). The 24-105 might seem like the other option, but as suggested as part of the 5D3 kit to save some dough, so that looks like it might be put off until I can afford that investment.
.... or by the time I go full frame I might end up with the f/2.8L "big guns" which I understand are the 16-35 f/2.8L II, 24-70 f/2.8L and 70-200 f/2.8L II IS. 


Back to my current situation though:
I'm definitely not interested in buying yet another "toy lens" (as the Sigma feels like IMHO) but at the same time I'm not categorically ruling out anything which isn't an "L" as I've gathered that there are indeed high quality (almost pro level?) lenses out there, but without the tough build and weather sealing used in the L types. I believe that could suffice for now as I handle my gear carefully and don't intend to use it outdoors in rough weather. There's also something about looking like a professional when people hire you and not an amateur trying to make a couple of bucks.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2012, 05:49:29 AM by pixyl »
50D w/BG-E2 | 24-70 f/2.8L II | 70-200 f/2.8L IS II | 70-200 f/4L | 35 f/2 | Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 | Sigma 50 f/1.4 | 580EX II | 430EX

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pixyl

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Shooting a bit of everything isn't a great idea for a business plan. I suggest you target a market and get good at that kind of photography so you have a good product to sell to that market.

Sounds like good advice. I do very much enjoy advertising/product/food photography including all the Photoshop post-processing (I also need to invest in a better, faster computer), but I also know there's a lot of very tough competition and specializing in that field which would be a real challenge to start out in.
Realistically I think I might be better off starting with something like real estate and portraits for schools and such, then move on to more challenging stuff when I have the experience and can deliver the quality people expect. I don't want to get into weddings just now understandably but not something I'm ruling out for later.

Quote
Also have two 580exii and lots of accessories to control light, even though I use natural light wherever I can.

Yeah, I need to invest more in lighting -portable lighting that is (I have a couple of Elinchrom studio strobes already, but they don't work on batteries and are cumbersome to carry around). I'll probably get myself a 580EX/EX II (or two) in addition to my existing 430 EX and a trigger of some sort (a reliable manual one will likely do for now even though I might just start experimenting with the built in IR-trigger of the 580EX) and a portable softbox (Lastolite EzyBox or similar). With a handy sized reflector, a couple of stands (already have those from the Elinchrom kit) a couple of umbrellas and possibly also a portable backdrop kit I would have enough to get started offering my services I think.
50D w/BG-E2 | 24-70 f/2.8L II | 70-200 f/2.8L IS II | 70-200 f/4L | 35 f/2 | Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 | Sigma 50 f/1.4 | 580EX II | 430EX

rocket_scientist

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Yeah, I need to invest more in lighting -portable lighting that is (I have a couple of Elinchrom studio strobes already, but they don't work on batteries and are cumbersome to carry around). I'll probably get myself a 580EX/EX II (or two) in addition to my existing 430 EX and a trigger of some sort (a reliable manual one will likely do for now even though I might just start experimenting with the built in IR-trigger of the 580EX) and a portable softbox (Lastolite EzyBox or similar). With a handy sized reflector, a couple of stands (already have those from the Elinchrom kit) a couple of umbrellas and possibly also a portable backdrop kit I would have enough to get started offering my services I think.

I would not rely on the IR-trigger for the 580's.  They do not work well at all in strong light(sunlight) and have a very poor reach.  They technically on work on line of sight and so if one flash is blocked by a pillar or person etc, the flash amy not work.  If you want to use this flash combination and not the 600EX, then you would want to get some type of radio trigger, which in my experience work much better. 
EOS 7D, 50L, 24-70L, 580EX II

Cannon Man

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I had a couple years to prepare before i started my own photo company.
When i started my company i started with two 1D Mark IV cameras, ts-e 24mm 3.5 II, 50mm 1.2, 85mm 1.2, 70-200 2.8 IS II, 24-70 2.8.

I had a lot of gear to start with but now that i've been pro for 2 years and i know excactly what i need i pretty much only use 35mm 1.4, 50mm 1.2, 85mm 1.2 and those are what i really recommend and for almost job you could get by with those. Sometimes i need to use the ts-e 24 II and 135mm 2.0.

I shoot portraits and weddings. (i sold both 24-70 and 70-200 because i am in love with primes)

Hope this helps, if you are short on money for the "best" equipment i recommend bying an L glass prime of your most needed focal lenght first with a zoom or two and build up later on.

bdunbar79

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I agree.  It's easy to argue sports lenses, but if you are going to earn your living doing photography, you're probably going to be doing a ton of weddings.  You gotta be ready for wedding photography.
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pixyl

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Re: Lenses for crop AND full-frame bodies (starting up my photography business)
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2012, 07:01:55 PM »
Aha!  :)
All those replies got me thinking and reading some more.
I understand that you need a certain working distance from your subject in order to eliminate distortions (huge nose/small ears etc.) which probably explains why people commonly seem to use 85 and 135mm primes instead of a Canon 35mm f/2 which I intended mainly for indoor (low light) portraits. No wonder I've been I've been giving myself a hard time focusing on fast moving kids with such a close working distance. And I've probably also distorted their faces in the process as well. But.... I have gotten to like the idea of using primes instead of just zooms all the time.

So, rather than having to guess (or remember the distance from past experience) at which distance from the subject a lens distorts I'm thinking that say an 85mm lens forces you to keep a specific distance at which the subject isn't distorted while with a zoom (say my Sigma 17-70) you can always zoom out, move closer and probably mess things up. A 70-200 would be different of course as I just tried it with my Canon 70-200 f/4L. With my 1.6x crop sensor I found that even at the minimum 70mm (112mm equivalent on a FF) I got very close and was forced to back away in order to frame the subject, thus eliminating distortions.
Zooming in closer to 200mm was pretty hard as it made for very tight headshots and was also hard to hand-hold (I don't have the IS version). At 85 mm (trying to emulate the framing of an 85mm lens) it was doable, but of course not easy peasy as with the 35mm where hand-shake isn't an issue and I can just snap away (it is of course a lot lighter than the 70-200 which helps). 135mm was even harder and needing more space (OK in a studio I guess but harder in a small home). But then again I'm guessing most serious portrait photographers go FF.
An 85mm would be a better choice for a 1.6x crop sensor, wouldn't it? And still usable for a FF (the equivalent of how 53mm looks on my crop camera if my calculations are correct). This looks good to be suitable for both a headshot and a full portrait. The 85 f/1.2L seems like an unnecessary investment at this stage. I can always reconsider it when I get more experience, so the much lower priced 85 f/1.8 comes into consideration. According to Ken Rockwell, it's very sharp, and much sharper than the 100 f/2 (comparison at f/2) which brings me to yet another lens; the 100 f/2.8 macro which is, according to many reviews/comments, also a nice portrait lens (even though it obviously doesn't give the same shallow DOF as the  85 f/1.8). But it would cover my needs for a close-up lens (I'm thinking food photography, rings etc. in a wedding etc.) The 100 f/2.8L IS is tempting, but having read that you really need a tripod and a flash in any case when doing serious macro work, and it seems a bit over-priced for a plastic shelled lens I think I'll pass and go for the non-L/non-IS version instead.

Next I'm looking at a general-use lens which should replace my Sigma 17-70 which is pretty worn and not a lens I'm very happy with any longer. The Canon 24-70 f/2.8 seemed like a good replacement but after some reading doesn't seem to be "the perfect allround lens" any longer with sharpness and build issues according to many user comments (then again lots of people seem very happy with it) which is why I've been eagerly awaiting the 24-70 f/2.8 II. Not any longer with that price tag. I'm thinking that with an 85 f/1.8 I'll have a sharp and shallow DOF lens for portraits. Along with my 35 f/2 I will also have two "indoor primes", so the 24-105 f/4L looks like a suitable replacement for everyday use (outdoor or flash indoor "do it all" lens). And unlike the Sigma 17-70 it'll also work on a FF. On a FF it should give the same view as 15-65mm on my 1.6x crop camera; a little wider than what I already have but not quite as much reach (and a lot less than 105mm on my crop camera). But no worries as that's where the 70-200 f/4L comes in.

So that leaves wide angle where I see one option for now: the Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5. On my 1.6x crop camera it should give the FF view of 6-13mm which I can only imagine is amazingly wide and should be great for stuff like real estate and also for "getting in with the action" type shots if I additionally get really close to the subject(s). It seems that the Canon 8-15 f/4L would be the closest to get for FF use. Funny that with this setup I would be getting 2mm wider with a crop-only type lens  ;)


This is getting veeeeery long, so to conclude what I'm thinking would work with my 50D and also a FF in the future:

  • Canon 85 f/1.8 (portraits)
  • Canon 100 f/2.8 (macro/close-up and portraits)
  • Canon 24-105 f/4L (travel, general use)
  • Canon EF-S 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 (real estate, indoor, "getting in with the action" wide angle)
  • Canon 70-200 f/4L ("getting closer" lens ("getting very close" on crop) in studio, outdoor or with flash -I already have this
  • Canon 35 f/2 (indoor (low light) wide angle (FF) or low-light general purpose (1.6x crop) -I already have this

Then, when I get a FF I'd sell the Sigma 17-70 and 10-22 (or keep one of both if I'd still be keeping the 50D), then get an ultra-wide such as the 8-15 f/4L if I'd need that for my FF.

For lighting, here's my proposal:
  • Canon 580 EX II (on-location/portable flash setup)
  • Canon 430 EX (on-location/portable flash setup -I already have this
  • Phottix Strato II manual radio trigger (with TTL pass-through) on-location/portable flash setup
  • Stands, umbrellas, brackets for the above -I already have some of this (umbrellas and stands borrowed from the Elinchrom gear below)
  • Elinchrom 500 w/s BXRI heads (2x), stands, 2x small soft boxes, 2x umbrellas, reflectors, snoot, barn-door, Skyport radio trigger (for studio shots) -I already have this
  • Manfrotto Auto-pole 2 (for studio backdrop mounting, allows flexible repositioning and mounting of other devices as well if needed) -I already have this
« Last Edit: September 09, 2012, 07:16:57 PM by pixyl »
50D w/BG-E2 | 24-70 f/2.8L II | 70-200 f/2.8L IS II | 70-200 f/4L | 35 f/2 | Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 | Sigma 50 f/1.4 | 580EX II | 430EX

robbymack

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Re: Lenses for crop AND full-frame bodies (starting up my photography business)
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2012, 07:33:16 PM »
Considering your current set up and the fact that you haven't made money at this yet go get the 17-55 2.8. Don't worry about ff or anything else until you start to make money. The 35 f2 is just fine as a "normal" prime on crop, but I suspect you'll be using the 17-55 more than 90% of the time. At 55mm on crop it make a good head and shoulders portrait lens.  I don't particularly think f2.8 is all that great for stopping action in low light (adults or children), but to outfit yourself with some fast l primes is going to be pricey so path of least resistance here.

As others have mentioned you seem to have a wide focus on your business plan.  While that is fine I would highly recommend you find a nitch and stick with it. Obviously don't pass up other opportunities, but it is very difficult to make your name as a jack of all trades.

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Re: Lenses for crop AND full-frame bodies (starting up my photography business)
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2012, 07:33:16 PM »

EOBeav

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Re: Lenses for crop AND full-frame bodies (starting up my photography business)
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2012, 09:15:52 PM »
If you end up going with a FF, you'll want to hang on to that 70-200.
In landscape photography, when you shoot is more important than where.

Gear: Canon 5DmkII, 17-40mm f/4 L, 50mm f/1.4, 70-200mm f/4.

pixyl

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Re: Lenses for crop AND full-frame bodies (starting up my photography business)
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2012, 04:51:33 PM »
If you end up going with a FF, you'll want to hang on to that 70-200.

No worries, the 70-200 f/4L is a keeper  ;)
That is, unless I replace it with the 2.8 IS version at some stage.

robbymack: Why do you suggest the 17-55 f/2.8 IS when I already have the Sigma 17-70? Wouldn't a 24-105 f/4L IS be much more of a step up or would the IS and constant f/2.8 of the 17-55 be worth the upgrade? I suppose the IQ might be better than the Sigma as well?
As for indoor low light photography I'll probably have to resort to flashes anyway, and one of the things I'm starting to invest both time and money into (an additional Speedlite, radio triggers etc.)
« Last Edit: September 12, 2012, 05:35:25 PM by pixyl »
50D w/BG-E2 | 24-70 f/2.8L II | 70-200 f/2.8L IS II | 70-200 f/4L | 35 f/2 | Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 | Sigma 50 f/1.4 | 580EX II | 430EX

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Re: Lenses for crop AND full-frame bodies (starting up my photography business)
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2012, 04:51:33 PM »