Camera Gear and Lenses

Wednesday July 29, 2009 at 12:10am photography, camera gear, lenses Comments (0) »

This is unlikely to interest many who read this blog, but I feel the need to record some current thoughts for posterity and/or later reference - mostly because i've spent a lot of time thinking over and researching this stuff, and I like to post something about anything on which I spend this much effort.

As you many know, I've spent a *lot* of time with my camera since I got it back in December of 2007. I've taken about nearly sixteen thousand pictures with it since that time, and I've greatly enjoyed learning all kinds of things about photography and how to do certain things and what works and what doesn't for a given application.

I knew before I even bought my 40D that there would be other pieces of camera equipment in which I'd want to invest in order to get the most out of it. One of the great things about having a nice DSLR as opposed to a point-and-shoot (or even a compact, all-in-one dslr) is that there is a wide array of supplementary equipment that can make your camera into the perfect instrument for many different photographic applications - and the more I shoot, the more I realize what the advantage to having this or that lens or some other accessory would be.

Unfortunately, if you're going for high quality (and if i'm going to spend much, I am), camera stuff is expensive. Really. I've been saving since they day I got this thing, and i'm still a considerable ways from having anything i'm after. Fortunately, this doesn't really bother me. It's fun to daydream about how it'll be cool if I can get this stuff someday, but other priorities dictate that I wait a while.

I have so far been able to buy one additional item for my camera: over christmas last year I was able to pick up my flash, the 430ex II Speedlite, with which I have been extremely happy. It was about the cheapest thing on my list at ~$250 (apart from things like 'an extra battery' - yeah, i told you this stuff was pricey), but it was probably the most important for the most applications. The lighting this flash gives is unbelievably better and brighter than the pop-up flash and the ability to bounce light off of walls and ceilings has all but negated problems with red-eye and harsh shadows typically experienced with built-in flashes. It's nice enough that I don't actually *hate* using a flash anymore.

So that leaves me with the more expensive stuff...

I decided a quite a while back what lenses I wanted, and I still think the array is good. Specifically which lenses make up that array are the subject of frequent change, but in general, here's what I want (I have briefly mentioned this before; a little has changed):

1. A wide-aperture lens for low light, fine depth-of-field, etc. For this one, I've pretty much decided on the Canon EF 50mm f1.4. It's a relatively inexpensive yet very well-reviewed lens, and there's little that compares with it in this price range.

2. A wide-angle lens for landscapes, indoor photography, large group shots, etc. Probably the Canon EF-S 10-22, or possibly the Sigma 10-20. Really, I'd rather have a 10 or 12mm prime instead of a zoom here, but apparently no one makes one.

3. A long telephoto for wildlife and other subjects I'm unable to approach very closely. And this one is the one for which I change my mind every few days. It's also by far the most expensive (not that the others are cheap). It's *also* the one I want the most. I generally look at all of these lenses in turn; each of them have very specific pros and cons. As opposed to the other lens types, I just don't think there's a 'perfect fit' for me that works for what I *want* and what i might be able to afford at some point.

This is the first one I looked at, and I think i've come full circle back to figuring it's the one I should save for - it just seems to have the nicest mix.

The Canon 100-400 4.5-5.6L IS
Pros: L-series (pro quality), Zoom flexibility, IS (image stabilization), good reach
Cons: Clarity/sharpness maybe not *quite* as good as prime lens, most expensive

But, there are also these:

The Canon 300mm 4L IS
Pros: L-series, Prime clarity/sharpness, IS
Cons: no zoom flexibility, shorter reach

The Sigma 120-400 OS
Pros: least expensive (but well reviewed), Zoom flexibility, IS, good reach
Cons: Clarity/sharpness probably not as good as prime lens, esp. at long end

The Canon 400mm 5.6L
Pros: L-series, Prime clarity/sharpness, good reach
Cons: no zoom flexibility, no IS

I have spent a ridiculous amount of time reading reviews and looking at photos taken with all of this stuff - which, in itself, has taught me a few things.

So there we have it, my list of expensive toys outlined and documented. Maybe someday I'll get to buy some of them. Heh.

And now, on to other stuff...



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