So last weekend we had our annual Trogland meetup. As I do every year, I spent most of the meetup taking pictures. As I did last year, I rented some gear from lensrentals.com (another great experience, btw) to test drive. This year, I got to play with a 7DII along with the Sigma 8-16mm APS-C ultrawide I rented for my 40D last year - two pieces of gear I have been considering purchasing.
I've had my 40D now for about 7.5 years, and I love this camera. It's a bit old at this point, and doesn't have the stats of newer models, but I love the way it works and, aside from some processing issues I've been having, I love what it produces. I've also spent quite a bit of time shooting with the 5DIII, particularly at our company's annual members' meeting (where I play photographer), and I've now spent a solid weekend+ shooting with the 7DII.
The 7DII is a solid camera, and I had a great time shooting with it. It's shutter is one of the quietest I've ever heard - which is great if you're shooting over someone's shoulder. It outperforms my 40D in every way, but it still works the way I'm used to. I also like that it has a lens focus microadjustment as I've been having some backfocusing issues with my 50mm 1.4 close at wide apertures. It is a worthy upgrade and I may be looking to pick one up, but I'm not completely sure.
I think the main reason I'm still on the fence is the camera's high ISO performance. I was hoping for parity with the 5DIII. I don't have a side-by-side comparison, but it feels like the 7DII doesn't handle, say, 12,800 quite as well as its big brother. It's definitely a lot better than what I have and it's quite possible my expectations were a little too high. It's even possible that the 7DII does every bit as well and it's only my perceptions that are skewed. As the 5DIII ages its price continues to come down, so at this point I'm considering jumping to that instead - though that would mean a change in the lenses I'm looking at.
As I mentioned last year, the Sigma 8-16mm is a pretty solid lens for a consumer-grade, crop-frame ultra-wide. Images are nice and sharp, particularly at the wide end of its zoom range (where I generally want it anyway). People do look a bit skewed at that focal length - an effect that is sometimes interesting and cool, and is somtimes a bit too "carnival fun house mirror". In addition to the meetup (where I mostly shot people with it, for better or worse), I also went on hike out to Laurel falls and took just a couple of nature shots with this lens and the 7DII. Those look beautiful. If I do end up going with the crop-frame, I think this is the lens I'll end up with - unless canon makes a not-ridiculously-priced 10mm f2.8 before I get around to it...
|Saturday September 12, 2009 at 10:46am||photography, shows, friends, munchkins, camera, birthdays||Comments (3) »|
Well, my photography show "opened" at WAPC yesterday evening. Some of my friends were there to show some support and hang out: Robb, Edie and Llama came and so did Larry and Kris Rosolina...and of course Sheri was there :). There were also a fair number of people from Watauga as well - some of who I had met, and some whom I hadn't. Lots of people said they really liked my pictures, which was cool. Larry and Kris suggested I look into putting some of my work into next year's regional fair or possibly some other kind of photography show. I'll have to think about that - it sounds interesting.
I think I'll put up an online version of the gallery at some point - with the photos I chose and their names (which I had a lot of fun with and got several compliments on specifically). The gallery has a lot of still-lifes, a few landscapes, some pets, some small children and one or two other random shots.
Anyway, while we were hanging out there, our friends Ginger and William Galaini became parents of little Liam Ross. We've seen some pictures already (this expediency is one of the many reasons I'm such a fan of the internet and digital cameras! :)) and he shows signs of extreme cuteness and being one with the Force. As far as we know, Ginger and the munchkin are doing ok, but that's mostly because we haven't heard otherwise...I hope that gets confirmed soon.
Not much else of note has transpired. I did get some new stuff for my camera on friday : an extra battery (needed), a cable release (yay for tripod stuff), a lens hood (say no to flare) and, most importantly, a shiny new lens. At $400 it was the least expensive of the ones on my list. It's a 50mm prime with a 1.4 maximum aperture. It's intended uses are for low-light/indoor, fine depth-of-field and portraits. I'm still getting used to exactly how narrow the depth of field is at 1.4 on a 50mm lens only a few feet from the subject - like different-parts-of-peoples-faces-being-in-and-out-of-focus kind of narrow. Still learning on it and continuing to enjoy playing with it though.
Tonight we're going to a friend's birthday party. That should be fun times. :)
Nothing else to report here. Carry on.
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...
|Wednesday May 13, 2009 at 10:45pm||gadget spite, jeep, outdoor, computer problems, music, band, gaming, camera, friends||Comments (4) »|
...that i can mash the button on the jeep's clicker for five minutes and it will not unlock for anything, but i can then hand it to Sheri and she'll push the button once and, click, it works...???
Research is currently underway to determine if this is also related to the Pickle Jar Phenomenon.
And now, the news (in no particular order):
Getting new tires on the jeep tomorrow. Yay rah exciting, i know, but it needs done.
We played catch in our backyard today. This seems random, and it is, but Sheri had been saying for a couple years that we should get some ball gloves and baseball and play catch because it would be fun. We had a couple of walmart gift cards, and it seemed an amusing thing to spend them on.
I think the last of Hikaru's current computer problems has been isolated and (somewhat) solved. I love my computers... ...when they work.
Had a great time jamming at the Hippie Hut yesterday. I think we're still one band member short, but it's going pretty well.
Continuing to go over the Mouse Guard rules and trying to get one of the current D&D story arcs wrapped up so i can put it on the back burner for a while in the interest of something new.
Been looking over some camera lenses and reviews of them. I know i want a long telephoto, a super-wide-angle and a wide-aperture prime (probably 50mm), but i keep going back-and-forth regarding exactly which ones i'm after. Oh well, i've got time.
Had a going away party for Ginger last weekend - which she almost missed ;). I think we had a dozen people or so. I took a few pictures - but didn't get too many before my flash batteries died. I hadn't thought about bringing the camera until right before we left and at that point i didn't have time to charge them. Anyway, we had a bit of a cookout and then sat around and talked for a good while. Later we played a game of Apples to Apples, which is always fun. It was a good time. We're going to miss Ginger a lot. :(
|Tuesday December 23, 2008 at 3:02pm||holidays, christmas, camera, friends, family, birthdays, projects||Comments (0) »|
It's christmas eve eve.
Anyway, we've had a lot going on lately - not too much of which makes for good reading though.
Last thursday I finally finished the wardrobe we bought over the summer - it looks pretty good and functions wonderfully. It's nice to have something other than the cheap wal-mart dressers we had before.
Had a good game session / birthday party on saturday. That was fun. I got presents! Heh. Also, some of my friends got together to make some game-inspired snacks. We had Gnome Knuckles and Pixie Puree and a giant Cheese Ooze and treeant branches and all kinds of geeky goodness. The game was lots of fun too. It was a bit combat-heavy, but it makes up for the last session where there was none.
Sheri's choir had their Christmas Cantata on sunday - it went pretty well, i thought. We spent most of the rest of the day cleaning up in preparation for our lot-o-christmas-company.
Speaking of, sheri's parents and brother arrived early monday morning and it wasn't long before they'd fired up the wii to feed their bowling addiction. Hehe. Her grandparents arrived later that evening. We are having a full house, but it's fun. I'm excited to have people here for the holidays instead of traveling. It's a nice change of pace.
My camera flash came in the mail yesterday too! Much fun is had! I've been discovering all kinds of things with bouncing light off ceilings and walls. I've taken some really nice, natural-looking shots with it already. I have *also* taken a few accidentally lit pictures with some rather bizarre lighting when i didn't realize the flash head was pointed some odd way. Anyway, i'm loving this thing. It's such an amazing improvement over the little built-in pop-up.
Also, i got to hang out with Sam a bit yesterday. Good times.
Also, also - i need to finish my christmas shopping today. Yes, i know i'm way late. It's hard to find a good time to go when sheri's not with me.
Last night's christmas party was fun. Ginger, Tony, Rucht, McKenna and Finn came over for spaghetti, presents and hanging out. McKenna had to leave early, but Rucht stayed around until Finn got too cranky to be up.
After he left, Tony, Ginger, Sheri and I played a game of uber Carcassonne - as of last night, we have all but one tiny expansion. The game is now massive and barely fits in its box.
I played with my new toy (camera) a bit. I'm still learning it, but it's very nice. Took some pictures of Finn and some of our game-playing. At Tony's request, I got one of Optimash Prime joining our Carcassonne game. I'll start posting these at some point.
Rucht & McKenna gave us Settlers of Catan - a game that I've heard lots of good things about, but never got to play. In addition to that and the Carcassonne expansions, I got my own memory card for Ginger's game cube (hehe) and Sheri got a pair of yoshi slippers(!).
|Wednesday December 19, 2007 at 11:39am||cameras, birthdays, friends, penguins, christmas, family||Comments (2) »|
This is probably the last picture I'll post taken with our Kodak EasyShare digital camera. The subject of the picture should adequately explain why that is. :) I was able to pick this up (on sale) yesterday due to the *amazing* christmas bonus I got this year. I am now horribly out-classed by my equipment - but this is a disparity i'll be seeking to remedy over the course of the next year or so. Perhaps with some help from some friends.
In case anyone cares, I did type up my thoughts regarding Why I Decided on the Canon 40D. You know, if you didn't get enough of my rambling on that before.
In other news, I had a great birthday yesterday. For much more than the above reason. After work, Sheri, Ginger and Tony took me out to eat at O'Charley's (potato soup....yum) and then we went to a place called Fun Expedition and played miniature golf. Blacklight miniature golf. The second half of the course was in a closed-off, darkened area illuminated solely by blacklights and florescent materials. The balls glowed. The cup glowed. The obstacles glowed. The putting surface however, was a well of inky blackness. You couldn't see it at all. Sometimes you didn't know if there were bumps, basins, mounds, etc until you watched your ball unexpectedly change direction as it rolled over them. It was evil. But very cool.
After that, we came back here and had ice-cream cake and i got presents. Ginger gave me a fantastic penguin kids' book. A new IM away message is taken from it. :-)
Tony gave me a game called Penguins: a family penguin-stacking game - ironically put out by Fantasy Flight, the same people who make Arkham Horror and a bunch of other rpg-type games.
Sheri gave me a copy of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the original - Gene Wilder is awesome) and a penguin-shaped vibrating massager.
So, out of 4 birthday presents, 3 were penguin-based. Not bad. ;-)
Tonight we're supposed to have our little christmas party. We've invited Rucht, McKenna and Finn as well. I'm going to make some spaghetti. It should be lots of fun.
Just a couple more days till christmas vacation and heading up to IN. I can't wait to see everybody - it's been a *long* time since i've seen some of them.
Given the amount of time i've spent on it, it was destined to make it onto my blog sooner or later. The blog is a place to write down my thoughts, and this has taken up a fairly large number of thought cycles over the last several months.
I enjoy picking up new hobbies (despite the fact that I have less and less time for current ones), and ever since I held ginger's XT hostage for a few weeks back in July (during which time i played with it almost constantly), i've had a rapidly-growing interest in the art and technique of photography, doing a considerable amount of reading on terminology, practices and how cameras work.
So anyway, I've decided that I want a DSLR camera. I usually get a bit of money for christmas, I'm supposed to get a significant raise as of January, and a christmas bonus of some undisclosed amount. I figure between those boons, I may be able to save up for a decent camera in a (relatively) short amount of time. I hope.
Anyway, that brings me to the matter at hand: what to get.
I've spent hours reading specs and reviews on quite a few different cameras and lenses, made lists of pros and cons for several, and waffled back and forth on what I think I should go for at least 17 times (I'll probably add at least 2 more to that number as I write this entry).
Unfortunately, there seems to be some discrepancy between what I *want*, and what I think I'll be able to afford in some fashion. :-( See, the more I read and understood, the more I realized what some of the nicer (read: expensive) cameras have to offer, and part of me would rather have a camera that I can grow into, as opposed to out of. I'm usually the kind of person that will wait a little longer and spend a little more to get what I really want, as opposed to settling for something *almost* as good that i can get much quicker and cheaper.
Still, I would probably be happy with a less sophisticated camera, and as a first DSLR you can make the case that I really don't need anything more than that. Also, if I truly found that I had "out grown" the thing or really wanted some of the capabilities of the spiffier models, I would by that point have much more experience and perhaps a still clearer idea of what I'd really want to buy as an upgrade. True that I'd have already spent the money on the initial investment, but several years later i might be able to afford something a little nicer if it came to that.
The Specifics - here's what I've been looking at.
The first camera I looked at is the Canon XTI. This camera gets great reviews - esp as a first DSLR camera. It is lacking a couple of features I'd really rather have, but at only ~$580, it's the least expensive of the lot. Enough that I might be able to get a bit of a nicer lens with this one than with the others. As mentioned, I've spent quite a bit of time on ginger's XT, and so I already know a lot about how it works.
A camera that i've spent a bit of time actually playing with at Best Buy and liked was the Nikon d80. It's a great camera, and at ~$800 it's at a pretty good price considering, but the one thing that keeps me from saying "this is what I go with" is the fact that it has a sort of known issue with its metering being a little...wonky. It overexposes shots at varying increments between .3 and .7 ev. It's the inconsistency that many have commented on as being difficult to compensate for to the point that a shot often has to be taken two or more times to get the proper exposure - a luxury not always available.
A considerable step up on the quality/price ladder from either of those is Canon's 40d. This one sells for about ~$1300 for just the body, or about ~$1500 bundled with a decent kit lens.
The camera I would really like is Nikon's D300. Unfortunately, at ~$1800 for just the body, it's just too expensive. I couldn't get a decent lens to go with it and still keep the package under $2000 (not that I want to go up even that high) - so, barring something like an unexpected inheritance from a late and unknown great uncle, I think i can safely say that one's off the table. Sadness. As such, I won't bother rambling in greater detail about how cool it is.
So anyway, that's about how it breaks down. I looked over a handful of other cameras too, but those are the top 3 contenders - at the moment anyway. I didn't go into the lenses I've looked at and considered here, because that largely depends upon what camera I get.
If anyone has any input, I'd be glad to hear it - esp. if you've some knowledge of one or more of these cameras and/or photography in general. Leave a comment or send me an email.
As of now, I'm leaning toward one of the canon cameras. Not that that narrows the field too much...