Cameras

Digital rocks!

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I switched to digital in 1999. You can read the ancient history here

Even my original 2Mpixel Nikon coolpix 950, was up to producing great looking 8x10 prints.

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In 2004 I upgraded to a Canon 20D DSLR which is still a great camera. As of October 2010, it had taken well over 25,000 pictures.

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October 2010 I upgraded to a Canon 7D DSLR.

December 2016 I got a Canon 5D Mk IV DSLR, my youngest has claimed the 20D for herself.

Granted a 4x5" field camera with ISO 50 film and a scanner, beats any digital camera for image quality, but apart from landscapes what can you use it for?

The advantages I see in digital are:

Immediate feedback

This is vital when taking pics of children. Especially my youngest who is magic; she always blinks as the shutter opens.

This is also important for those learning photography (we never stop learning).

Cataloging

I have many many boxes of slides, netgatives and prints from my film era. I can guarantee that if my wife asked for a new print of something, it would involve a search of many weeks to find the relevant negative or slide.

By contrast, finding a pic taken since 1999 would be a matter of minutes or hours. If I were really organized and actually setup the database catalog thingy I've been contemplating for years, it would take only seconds. (Setting up the db and query tools is the easy bit - cataloging 40+Gb of pics is the hard bit).

Of course I could go get all my negs and slides scanned, but the cost ($$ and/or time) would be prohibitive.

Post-processing

When I was printing B&W myself, I was able to crop, dodge and burn as much as I wanted - though it was hideously time consuming, and I could only do it while at college and had access to a darkroom. With slides and color negs, there was no such option.

With digital, the computer is the darkroom - and I can redo things if need be. The cost in terms of time and $$ is significantly less. (Granted that I make my living from computers so the house is full of them anyway ;-).

I should point out that I do very little post-processing of my digital images. I tend to think of them as slides. On the rare occasion though, that I need to fix a blemish (or red-eye from the coolpix) it is a relatively simple process.

Lenses

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My lens collection includes

EF-S 17-85/4-5.6 IS

This lens gets used more than any other. It isn't a fantastic lens, but it certainly isn't bad. It has IS and a very useful zoom range. When I travel, this is usually the only lens I take.

This is the only EF-S lens I have, as I may one day get a full frame DSLR.

EF 50/1.4
Very nice for low-light.
EF 28/1.8
On an APS-C body (like the 20D), this makes a reasonable standard lens.
EF 85/1.8

A very nice, fast lens.

For the last couple of years all my ballet photos have been take with this.

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EF 24-105/4L IS II
This is the walk-about lens I got with the 5D which cannot use the EF-S 17-85. I expect it will get a lot of use.
EF 70-200/2.8L IS
This is easily my favorite. The kids activities like soccer, ballet, and such keep it busy.

All the primes above use the same filter size (58mm) which is handy. The two L zooms also use the same filter size (77mm).

wish list

EF 300/2.8L IS

My daughter now plays on a full size soccer field, and the 70-200 isn't enough to reach the far corner. The 300 would be a nice addition but would be no help when the kids come closer, sooo I'd need another body (5DmkII or 7D ;-) with the 70-200 on it.

Of course the 300/2.8 is not only seriously expensive - it's seriously heavy!

Add a 2x converter for a 600/5.6

Off-camera flash

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I'm a strobist fan (nearly every photographer I know is) and want to get some radio triggers, stands etc.

It's a bit hard to justify to my wife though, since our girls are so over having their picture taken, and they're usually my excuse for expensive toys.

As a means to an end, I added a couple of RJ45 jacks to my TTL off camera cord. In hind-sight I should have cut the cable closer to the flash end, so there was a bit more of the heavy cable at the camera end to get the RJ45 jack out of the way better.

Actually, on a recent holiday, our oldest had an epiphany; she realized that if she wanted any decent photos she'd have to cooperate with the photographer. With the help of the above off camera cord, some very nice pictures resulted.

The 7D has a popup flash which can act as a master for my 580EX flash, so I can use that for now. It is pretty neat actually; from the flash menu on the back of the camera I can control the power settings for the remote flash.

As useful as the 7D plus 580EX combination is, it you still get a low level flash from the popup, which can be a problem, so a proper light kit is still on the wish list.

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Update: puppies are the new excuse - anything to get nice pics of them while they are so cute. I probably left it a bit late, but I finally got a light kit from mpex, two manual flashes, light stands, shoot through umbrellas and three pocket wizard radio triggers. The picture at right was taken with the room illuminated by two flashes bounced off the ceiling in opposite corners.

For now at least the the girls will submit to standing next to an umbrella while I play with light.

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Sam actually enjoyed the shoot for the picture below left; huddling over the LCD screen deciding what to try next.

Full frame

December 2016; I got a 5D Mk IV with EF 24-105 f/4L II IS USM.

My youngest has now claimed the 20D for herself. That's fine by me - I cannot read that tiny LCD screen easily anymore. It still takes great pictures and she has a good eye for composition.

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Since EF-S lenses cannot be used on a full-frame, I needed a new walk-about lens. The EF 24-105 is a good option. With the 5D's great performance at high ISO, f/4 should be plenty. Besides, the EF-S 17-85 is now attached to the 20D again ;-)


Author:sjg@crufty.net /* imagine something very witty here */