An introduction and a dilemma

Oct 3, 2014
6
0
Hello!

I'm new here and thought I'd introduce myself a bit before getting to my question.

TL;DR - I have $2800 to spend on equipment and need ideas.

I'm an almost 40 former IT engineer who has enjoyed photography since I was kid a with a Kodak 110 film camera. I got my first SLR in the 90s and my first DSLR was a Canon 10D.

I'm currently unemployed having gotten fed up with my former career and I also suffer from bipolar II disorder and chronic insomnia. Through the ups and downs, the one thing I still really enjoy photography. I like wildlife photography, although I'm limited by my equipment and I can't really afford to travel. I also enjoy taking candids of people at parties and such, though I don't think the life of a wedding or event photographer would be compatible with my struggles with anxiety and depression. I also enjoy taking pictures at local clubs where no flash photography is allowed, but my current equipment struggles in low light. My apartment has no windows exposed to light so it's hard to do much indoors. I'm not particularly skilled at landscape photography.

Lately I've felt like I'm in a creative slump. What I don't want to happen is to lose interest. I want to light the spark back up.

My current equipment (from when I had money to buy it):

EOS 7D
EF 100-400L
EF 24-105L
EF-S 10-22mm
EF 85mm f/1.8
430EX II

I recently went on an eBay spree and earned about $2800. I want to spend all of this on photography equipment. I don't have a lot of money, but one thing I do have is a lot of time. I could learn new things.

My biggest dissatisfaction with my current gear is the noise of the 7D. Whether I'm trying to take a picture of a blue heron, a indie musician, or a baseball player at a night game I'm always pumping up the ISO with the equipment I have and the noise and shadow banding is driving me nuts.

Do I keep the 7D and add a 6D? I think the inferior autofocus system would annoy me because I'm used to the advanced 7D.

Do I ditch the 7D and go 7D II? It's tough to say until people have it in their hands for reviews, but what I've seen so far seems better.

Do I go 5DIII? I admit this is a dream body for me. And I could do it with the current rebates, but that would be ALL I could do. But maybe that would be ok.

I also have no macro equipment. I admit the MP-E 65mm intrigues me, but I see so many horror stories about how hard it is to use (and I've done my research and understand the limitations of that particular lens). If I go with a standard macro, there's choices with the 100L, the 180L, and the Sigma. Then I get stuck trying to decide between the ring flash or the twin flash. Focus stacking seems like something I'd be interested in but again I worry that it's beyond me.

Astral photography would be interesting but it's tough to get away from light pollution here in Massachusetts.

A tilt-S___ lens could be fun to learn to use, but since I have a crop sensor body I don't know if that's a wise choice. I wouldn't be able to get much else with the price of those.


So, if you were me what would you do if $2800 (and possibly a little more, as I have more things to sell and birthday coming up) fell into your lap?

And yes, I know that only I can really know what I need, but since I'm feeling so stuck right now I'm looking for ideas to push me in the right direction.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far!

Paul
 

mkabi

EOS RP
Mar 21, 2013
509
2
41
All the lenses you own are perfect for Full Frame, not crop.
My suggestion, sell the 7D and get yourself the grey market 5DIII (should cost you about $2600; watch for deals on Canon Rumors).

You could also buy a Sony A7s with Canon lens adapter.
 
Oct 3, 2014
6
0
mkabi said:
All the lenses you own are perfect for Full Frame, not crop.
My suggestion, sell the 7D and get yourself the grey market 5DIII (should cost you about $2600; watch for deals on Canon Rumors).

You could also buy a Sony A7s with Canon lens adapter.

Well one of the lenses won't work at all on full frame. So that would have to go too. At that point, my widest lens would be the 24-105L. A comparable EF lens would be fairly pricey and while I'm by no means great with that 10-22mm lens, I've taken a few pictures I couldn't have taken without it.

I do think full frame is the way to go for 90% of what I want to do, though.
 

NancyP

EOS R
Dec 17, 2013
1,297
14
IF you want one "does it all" body, the 5D3 would be good. If you want an action body and a landscape/portrait/everything else body, you could add the 6D body to your current gear. If you want an occasional ultrawide for not much money, the all manual Samyang/Rokinon/Bower 14mm f/2.8 rectilinear projection lens is a great deal at around 300 to 350 bucks. It is perhaps not the greatest for architecture, as its distortion is complex, but it works a treat for landscape, group shots in tight places, astrophotography. I think you have a pretty good start already, the 6D will add some low-light, narrow depth of field wide open, and ultra-wide-angle capacity. I have 6D and 60D. I am actually using my old film lenses on the 6D with adapter.

Personally I would spend more time learning post-processing and learning specific skills (how are you on your lighting?) - consider those things to work on when you can't get out.

Ansel Adams or some other luminary said that there's nothing worse than a sharp picture of a dull concept. I think that we all spend a little too much time pixel peeping and not enough time seeing and thinking and planning.
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Mar 25, 2011
16,652
1,603
seqiro said:
mkabi said:
All the lenses you own are perfect for Full Frame, not crop.
My suggestion, sell the 7D and get yourself the grey market 5DIII (should cost you about $2600; watch for deals on Canon Rumors).

You could also buy a Sony A7s with Canon lens adapter.

Well one of the lenses won't work at all on full frame. So that would have to go too. At that point, my widest lens would be the 24-105L. A comparable EF lens would be fairly pricey and while I'm by no means great with that 10-22mm lens, I've taken a few pictures I couldn't have taken without it.

I do think full frame is the way to go for 90% of what I want to do, though.

24mm on a FF is wide. You are getting into ultra wide when you get wider. Some like ultrawide, some don't. I'd start with the 24-105 on a FF body, and then decide if you want wider. Most likely, for bird photography, you will want longer. You can use a 1.4X TC on a 100-400L with a 5D MK III.

I love FF, but in your situation, just buy a 7D MK II and sell the 7D. The 7D MK II will be able to AF with a 1.4X TC on your 100-400L which for bird photography you will love.

You might even sell the 100-400L and pre-order one of the new Sigma 150-600mm lenses with the proceeds and the $1000 left over from buying the MK II.
 

old-pr-pix

EOS RP
Dec 26, 2011
425
64
As noted, you have a good line-up of lenses, except if you want to do low light stuff indoors. Your only wide-ap lens is the 85 and that can be too long for close action indoors (clubs, etc.) Consider getting a shorter focal length, wider aperture lens. On crop, something like the Sigma 18-35 f1.8 has 2+ stops advantage over your current lenses. Learning to work with low light and limited DOF should be a good challenge.

7DII maybe just what you need, but it's too soon to really know. If you go to 5DIII, you should be able to buy a wide ap prime in the 28/35 range for what you can get from selling your 10-22. Be sure to check the Canon Direct store's list of refurb. products (5DIII is ~$2700 at the moment) and watch for a sale.
 
Nov 17, 2013
41
0
www.flickr.com
Hi Paul,

First off, best of luck with your struggles – glad that photography can be an outlet for you! I’m also an IT engineer, and although I don’t have the guts to give it up, I certainly do feel like it some days!

Here are some of my thoughts:

Creative slump: Have you tried any online photography courses? I personally really like Lynda.com and in particular Ben Long who has a boat load of courses there. He is also an IT guy and I really appreciate his sense of humor (not sure if those two thoughts are related or not). You can subscribe for $25 for just one month and then cancel if you want to. If you have a lot of time, watching techniques and then trying them might be a great way of getting out of a slump.

Camera: I had the 7D but sold it as I also was not a huge fan of the IQ especially at higher ISO. I have the 6D and use that camera most of the time (I sold the 7D and bought a 70D package through B&H and ended up ahead). If you tend to use the center point to track your subject then I think the 6D is great. What I don’t like is the focus point spread, the smaller buffer, and slower frame rate more than the autofocus compared to the 7D. The features of the 7D Mark II seem fantastic. I just don’t know that I could go back to crop IQ/low light noise.

I was also in the same boat thinking that the 5D Mark III is really the camera for me, but I didn’t want to spend that much. I bought the 6D refurbished through Canon for ~$1215 around this time last year (I think there was a Halloween 20% off coupon which didn’t work for the 5D Mark III so that decided me). I’m kind of waiting to see what the 5D Mark IV will be and how that may drop the prices of the III. Personally I wouldn’t make too many moves at once – so I would either buy the 6D and use that for a while before buying anything else or sell the 10-22 & 7D and buy the 5D Mark III. That should still give you money to buy a lens.

Lenses: The 24-105, 85, and 100-400 are much different lenses on a full frame. I shot with a pro who at the time used the 16-35, 24-105, and 100-400 in his travel/backpack kit that he led photo tours with. 24mm is quite wide on FF. Do you use lightroom or something similar to catalog your photos? You could do something like look at all the focal lengths you use possibly filtered by rating to see what you use/like the most. If you go to FF (which you really should if your major complaint is noise) then you’ll need to factor that in.
• If you shoot a lot in the FF equivalent of < 24mm then maybe you would want something like the new Canon 16-35 F4 lens (if that's fast enough for your uses).
• If you go with the 5D Mark III then maybe get the Tamron 150-600 or see what the Sigma is like in a few months. You could pick up the 1.4 extender as well, which even though you would have to manual focus on anything but the 5D Mark III you could still use it for static subjects like perched birds, the moon etc.
• Maybe get the cheap 50mm 1.8 so you have something wider than your 85 for low-light indoors? I personally really like the Sigma 35 Art but it is fairly expensive. I bought that refurbished too (through Sigma) but I think it was still close to $700. I find I want wider than my 50 a lot though which is why my 35 sees way more use. I agree with old-pr-pix - something wider would be better. I don't have any first hand experience except for the 14mm Rokino (which is extremely wide and manual focus and for me at least much more of a specialty lens) and the Sigma. I do recommend them both, but they wouldn't be my first recommendations for you.

Misc: If you want to try macro, I would get a set of extension tubes (I have the Kenko personally) and try them on the 24-105 first.
 

mkabi

EOS RP
Mar 21, 2013
509
2
41
seqiro said:
mkabi said:
All the lenses you own are perfect for Full Frame, not crop.
My suggestion, sell the 7D and get yourself the grey market 5DIII (should cost you about $2600; watch for deals on Canon Rumors).

You could also buy a Sony A7s with Canon lens adapter.

Well one of the lenses won't work at all on full frame. So that would have to go too. At that point, my widest lens would be the 24-105L. A comparable EF lens would be fairly pricey and while I'm by no means great with that 10-22mm lens, I've taken a few pictures I couldn't have taken without it.

I do think full frame is the way to go for 90% of what I want to do, though.

Sorry, I skimmed through your list of lenses. Your 10-22mm was hidden in that.
What you have to remember is the crop factor in the 7D. As long as you remember that you have to multiply every number by 1.6... you will know what range you want. So that 10-22 is really 16-35... but this is what most people don't know... you have to multiply 1.6 to the f-stop too. So all your f/4 are really 6.4, kinda light limiting isn't it?

85mm is the fastest lens you have and its f/2.88 on your 7D...
Now, I hear praise for the 135mm, and unless thats what you're aiming for 85mm isn't exactly the same as 85 on a FF.

Anyway - here is that link for a $2600 5D MkIII
http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php?topic=23099.0
 
Oct 3, 2014
6
0
Lots of great stuff here. I do think full frame is something that I really want to go for and selling the 7D & 10-22mm might just be the way to go.

I'll respond in more detail to these suggestions tomorrow evening. I actually have to try and sleep (emphasis on try!) because I need to be up early in the morning, but I appreciate all the advice so far and would love to hear even more thoughts.

Thanks again, everyone!
 

Steve

EOS RP
Nov 4, 2013
351
0
seqiro said:
So, if you were me what would you do if $2800 (and possibly a little more, as I have more things to sell and birthday coming up) fell into your lap?

If I had nearly 3 grand and a ton of free time I'd throw that 7D and a couple of those lenses in a bag, buy a ticket to somewhere in southeast Asia or south america and see how long I could hang out before running out of money. I bet that would help get some photographic creativity going. Experiences and opportunities are far better than any gear you can buy. It might be worthwhile to think of other things you could spend that money on that would be good for your photography besides a new camera body or lens. Good luck, man, and take care of yourself.
 

Sporgon

5% of gear used 95% of the time
CR Pro
Steve said:
seqiro said:
So, if you were me what would you do if $2800 (and possibly a little more, as I have more things to sell and birthday coming up) fell into your lap?

If I had nearly 3 grand and a ton of free time I'd throw that 7D and a couple of those lenses in a bag, buy a ticket to somewhere in southeast Asia or south america and see how long I could hang out before running out of money. I bet that would help get some photographic creativity going. Experiences and opportunities are far better than any gear you can buy. It might be worthwhile to think of other things you could spend that money on that would be good for your photography besides a new camera body or lens. Good luck, man, and take care of yourself.

Good point. I wouldn't pay out for a 5DIII if money is tight. The 6D is a fine camera and the AF has never let me down.........it would also be a much better match for your current lenses. Sell the EF-s and add a 50 f1.4, then youre good for anything.
 

Drum

EOS 90D
Feb 21, 2013
115
0
+1 on the 6d. then you could also buy another lens either a uwa to replace the 10-22 or you could try out the macro lens and flashes you are thinking about. Don't forget that with all the full frame bodies you will need a speed light. Personally I have the Yongnuo 565 and 568 flashes and for my needs they are perfectly acceptable. Your lens setup so far as others have suggested is perfect for ff. good luck with your choice.
 
Oct 4, 2014
1
0
Hello Paul,

I am writing this because I worry for your future and your finical situation. First off I will say I embrace your love for photography and its great that you are able to find happiness in life through photography. However with that said I know you were asking for help in how to spend this money that you have to buy photographer gear. But I have to say maybe at this time in your life you might be better off saving this money for a rainy day. You said you have no job and live in an apartment. I have to assume you need to pay rent. Do you have an emergency fund or any other source of income. Is this money you are going to spend on photography equipment going to bring you in to harder financial troubles.
From what I see you already have some pretty nice equipment and you should be able to make money from the photography equipment you already have. But you listed what you are willing to do and not do and you are narrowing your ability to make money in photographer to some very narrow markets in the industry. Maybe instead of spending money on new equipments you can challenge yourself and use your free time to go out and become a better landscape photographer or even just try some photography that makes you scarred.
With all this being said I do hope you succeeded in life on whatever you choice to do. I know you did not ask for this kind of feed back but I see everyone was telling you who to spend this money and when I read you you had no job I was worried that it might not be the best choice to spend this money you have saved.

Good Luck
Peace
 

MintChocs

EOS 90D
Nov 17, 2013
159
11
Hi Paul,

Congrats for posting such an open honest request. Whilst I may not be able to give you the answer you want I hope you might find some food for thought. I moved from a 12Mp crop Xsi to the 6D( I don't shoot sports or action, yes the lack of AF points is annoying but I can live with it). Yes there was a great improvement in the quality but the greatest improvement was in learning how to use better software to improve my images. I would be stressed but after sitting down editing, hours would go by without me noticing until my back/eyes started to hurt. Start a photography plan maybe just for a few days make a plan of a topic you can shoot, street photography(not necessarily people could be shapes patterns etc), macro another day (close up filter cheaper than a new lens), environmental portraits of friends plus you get to meet them and have a chat! Just a few suggestions, see what makes you smile. :) Personally I wouldn't spend the whole hunk of change probably less than half. I would use the money on going to places nearby, parks, cities etc. You could spend the all the money on one camera body and it's all gone but is it going to get you extra opportunities to take photos? Finally slight off topic, have you tried acupuncture, I find it quite helpful, being in a calmer more positive mood can do more for photography than any piece of equipment. Cheers
, wishing you happy snapping. :)
 
Oct 3, 2014
6
0
Just some quick responses before I head out. And thanks again to everyone offering advice!

First off, I do have a speedlite, the 430 EX II at the bottom of my list. Not the high end, but a decent flash. I have a flash bracket and a Demb diffuser.

I am married and my wife is a voice teacher, and while not pulling in the kind of cash that I made working for Fortune 100 companies, we've already experienced most of the financial hardships that we are going to. She's very supportive of the idea of me expanding my photography skills. I essentially made all of this money by selling unread books and and old Atari 2600 cartridges (several of which turned out to be very valuable) and aside from a set of new glasses and car repair bill, the rest is allotted to me for this purpose. I appreciate the concern!

The travel idea is certainly one I've thought about. And honestly I think my wife would support that too, though it's unlikely we could both afford to go. Also since the only place outside of the US I've ever been is Canada, I have a feeling I'd need a really long time there because I wouldn't want the WHOLE trip to be behind the camera. I'd want to spend a lot of time eating the local cuisine! :D I will put additional thought into this. I'd need a passport and I do worry about taking my medications with me (and also not having someone around who I trust who can say, "Hey, be careful!" Depression is awful, but the euphoria of mania can lead to really bad decisions.

As for the 6D and 5DIII, the 6D would afford me the opportunity to get some more glass and keep the 7D, while the 5DIII would mean chucking the 7D + 10-22 and maybe when all is said and done either replacing the UW or adding a macro.


Ok I have to get out of here before I am late, but I really do want to thank everyone again for all the kind words and thoughtful suggestions. Please feel free to continue! Tonight when I get home I'll pore over this more carefully.
 

neuroanatomist

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Jul 21, 2010
25,033
2,979
mkabi said:
What you have to remember is the crop factor in the 7D. As long as you remember that you have to multiply every number by 1.6... you will know what range you want. So that 10-22 is really 16-35... but this is what most people don't know... you have to multiply 1.6 to the f-stop too. So all your f/4 are really 6.4, kinda light limiting isn't it?

No, it's not light limiting. It's depth of field limiting. The crop factor effect on aperture applies to depth if field for equivalent framing, because with the 1.6x sensor you're 1.6x farther away to get the same framing, and that means deeper DoF. Exposure is determined by light per unit area, so at a given ISO f/4 will give the same shutter speed regardless of sensor size (however, the smaller the sensor the less total light gathered, meaning more noise with smaller sensors).
 

unfocused

EOS-1D X Mark III
Jul 20, 2010
5,992
3,267
67
Springfield, IL
www.mgordoncommunications.com
First of all, let me say I really admire your self-awareness. I have known far too many people suffering from mental illnesses who simply refuse or are unable to recognize their limitations and the results have sometimes been tragic.

Keeping on the path that you are on is the most important thing in that regard.

Now, as far as cameras go. My personal suggestion would be to buy a 6D. For just under $1,450 you can get a new US Warranty 6D through Canon Price Watch's street price program. I own a 5DIII and love it, but with limited funds I can't honestly recommend spending an additional $1,250 for the 5DIII. Unless – and this is a big "unless" – you know you will absolutely never be satisfied with the 6D and always regret not buying the 5DIII. I'm not talking small regret here, but big-time every-time-you-pick-up-the-camera regret. I'm talking irrational, gut-feeling response. ONLY if that is the case, should you consider the 5DIII.

At the current price for the 6D, you can keep the 7D for awhile and have it available in situations where you need the ultra wide angle or the extra reach. After 3-6 months with the 6D you may decide you don't. With the announcement of the 7DII the resale value of the 7D has already dropped, so holding it for a few more months probably won't make a lot of difference.

Photography equipment is expensive and the costs never end. Depending on what direction you may go in the future, you will want to invest in lenses, strobes, light modifiers, tripods, etc. etc. Plus, the travel idea is a good one, so holding back a little money for those things might be a good idea. If you really need an ultra-wide angle, there is nothing wrong with the old reliable 17-40 f4. It's still a good lens and reasonably priced, but as long as you have the 10-22 and the 7D, you can get by for quite a while using that.

I'm also undergoing a transition so very attuned to the need to conserve resources. Just one guy's recommendations.
 

drjlo

EOS R
Mar 27, 2012
805
7
seqiro said:
As for the 6D and 5DIII, the 6D would afford me the opportunity to get some more glass and keep the 7D, while the 5DIII would mean chucking the 7D + 10-22
.

I personally wouldn't touch any of the Canon crop sensors, even the 7D II sensor. It may have good improvement in IQ from 7D in JPEG, but I highly doubt RAW's have much improvement, just like 70D over 60D.

6D actually has better center AF point (low light sensitivity) than 5D III and slightly cleaner noise at high ISO, which will serve you well in your low-light candid photography. When I bought my 5D III, 6D was not out yet, but if it was available, I would have bought the 6D instead and save myself money for other things.

As for Macro, you can easily delve into that by putting on a cheap extension tube and putting it on your 85 mm. I feel Canon's macro flashes are too expensive myself. "Phoenix" Macro flash is a real macro ring flash (not one of those weak LED ring flashes) and works great at $89.
http://www.adorama.com/SYRF46C.html
 

Steve

EOS RP
Nov 4, 2013
351
0
seqiro said:
The travel idea is certainly one I've thought about. And honestly I think my wife would support that too, though it's unlikely we could both afford to go. Also since the only place outside of the US I've ever been is Canada, I have a feeling I'd need a really long time there because I wouldn't want the WHOLE trip to be behind the camera. I'd want to spend a lot of time eating the local cuisine! :D I will put additional thought into this. I'd need a passport and I do worry about taking my medications with me (and also not having someone around who I trust who can say, "Hey, be careful!" Depression is awful, but the euphoria of mania can lead to really bad decisions.

Just to be clear, my suggestion wasn't necessarily meant to be completely literal. I was saying what I would like to do with some extra money and free time. You don't have to go halfway around the world to kickstart your photography. The point of my post was that there are other things you can spend money on that will help you get the creativity and inspiration going. You could get some backpacking gear and go on an outdoor photo adventure, take some private workshops or continuing ed classes to learn new techniques, hire a hot air balloon and take a bunch of cool aerial shots, buy a bunch of photo books (the kind with good photos in them, not the kind with a bunch of words) or just take some long drives in the American North East and see whats out there.

Travel is awesome and I encourage everyone to do it, but I was mostly trying to give you some non-gear alternatives that might also be good for your mental well-being. New experiences are really a great way to help feel alive and encouraged and good about the future. They are also good for artistic discovery.

One last thing that is a bit more nuts and bolts - do you have a Photoshop license? That could be really great, especially with some of the Topaz plugins like Denoise, Detail, ReMask, etc. I struggled with the noise on the 7D when I had one and sold it before I'd really learned how to deal with noise and sharpening in a more structured way. Learning how to convert for good noise reduction and sharpening and learning how to do those things in PS could get you a lot more IQ out of your 7D than upgrading your camera body would. I found I could use much higher ISO's successfully with good post technique and get a lot more keepers. So that's something you might consider. Those skills transfer to new camera bodies as well!
 

Larry

EOS 90D
Mar 7, 2012
120
0
[quote ... I do worry about taking my medications with me (and also not having someone around who I trust who can say, "Hey, be careful!" Depression is awful, but the euphoria of mania can lead to really bad decisions.
[/quote]

Hey Paul,

Many others here can and have given you some good photo-food for thought. I'd like to add a bit of encouragement on the health issue:

Keeping in mind that reasonable emotional balance and the best physical health we can maintain is fundamental to all else we do, try to make that a priority that a moment's mania can't shake. Re. depression, absolutely maintain the meds, and consider the effects of living in an apartment with "no windows that admit light".

I imagine that you are familiar with the effects of S.A.D., but if not, read up a bit. The effects of a relatively sunlight-free environment can be very severe on some people, ...responses vary. In any case, more light on the subject(you) will add weight to the anti-depression side of the scale. [ SAD = Seasonal Affective Disorder. ]

If your intent is to actually become an income producing photographer, rather than a fulfilled amateur, consider carefully the many posts re. this idea on numerous photo forums. Reality can be much more demanding than dreams, ...especially if the dreams are fueled by both periodic mania and G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome ;) )

I'm convinced that if an authoritative voice spoke from the clouds, decreeing that there would be no new gear available, most of us could nevertheless have some very rewarding experiences using what we already have.

Try for patience, and give yourself plenty of time for thought.

Congratulations on having such a supportive wife, and best wishes, whatever your decisions,

Larry