Equipment advice/recomendations

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Big Mike, Jul 13, 2006.

  1. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I never thought I'd be posing this question but....What should I buy? :blushing:

    Here is the situation. I've just received a bonus from my employer. I want to spend it on some sort of photo equipment. (well most of it will go to paying off my credit card...but I'm not opposed to racking it up a bit again for this). I'm thinking I'd like to spend around $500-$1000 CDN. Maybe a bit more if it's worth it.

    I am starting out in the wedding photography (and portrait) field, so I'd like to get something that will help further that. I am thinking that I will someday purchase the successor to the 5D (full frame) but I'll still keep my 20D.

    So far, here are some of my main considerations.

    EF 17-40 F4L
    Price is right. I have the 18-55 EF-S kit lens for this length...but I've heard so many good things about this lens. Plus, when I do get a full frame...it will be super wide.

    EF-S 17-85mm F4-5.6 IS USM
    Price is in my range. I've heard good things about this too...and IS would be great. However, I do plan to get a full frame DSLR in the future...although I will still have my 20D to use this with.

    EF 24-70mm F2.8L USM
    It's a bit past my price range but everything I hear is that this is the cat's ass...especially when I go full frame.

    Wide Fast Prime lens
    I'd like a 24mm F1.8 or maybe a 28mm F1.8

    Studio light
    I've been looking at an Alien Bee package. To start...probably one B800 light with stand, case, big reflector umbrella and medium soft-box. Part of my business plan includes doing on-site portraits (of kids mostly)...and I think that this would really help facilitate that. I've actually got a few child portrait sessions coming up...and a lot of my family & friends are having kids these days.
    This could also be useful for bridal/wedding applications. Also, I have never really worked with studio lights and I really think that learning and practicing with this will help me become a better photographer.

    Canon Flash Unit
    I've been using a Braun Vario-Zoom flash unit for a long time. I think that I'm fairly competent using it and it does the job well enough (I think the GN is 110 so that's farily powerfull, isnt' it?). It is limited in that it is not TTL and only has auto settings for F4 & F8. With a 580 (or 550) EX for example...I could take advantage of TTL metering and other features of my camera. Maybe I could get by with a 430EX but I've heard that for wedding work...the 550 or 580 are much better.



    That's what I can think of for now. If anyone can relate any experience with any of this...or with similar decisions...that would be appreciated.

    How about off brand lenses? I know that some of them are pretty good but I have not really researched them. I'd be willing to consider something from Sigma or Tamron etc. but I'd like to hear what others have to say about it.
     
  2. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    You don't list what you already have, but if you are thinking about portraits, then the 85mm f1.8 should be high on you list of considerations.
     
  3. KevinR

    KevinR TPF Noob!

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    I say studio light. I have the AB's. Love them. And the more you use them, the more comfortable you will be.
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I guess that would help eh? :blushing:

    I shoot with a 20D, although I plan to get a full frame DLSR someday.

    My main kit
    Canon 50mm F1.8. It's old and is not always as sharp or in focus as my other lenses.
    Canon EF-S 18-55 Kit lens
    Canon EF 75-300 F4-5.6 III USM
    Braun Vario-Zoom Flash

    Also;
    Vivitar 100-300
    Sigma 24-70 F3.5-5.6
    Tamron 2X TC
    Canon 35-105
    Several small flash units and other gizmos and doodads

    I do like the idea of an 85mm F1.8 (I might cut off my arm to get the new 85 F1.2 :drool: ) and I may just get one someday...but I'm not sure that is what I want to get right now. I think I would rather get a wider prime. I also have distant plans to get the fabled 70-200 F2.8 IS...but that will have to wait.
     
  5. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    I agree for portrait photography, the 85mm f/1.8 is lacking from your setup. You might be able to get that, and one Alien Bees, for your budget.

    For weddings and portraits, you don't need another wide angle. You want to compress features, and make people look nice, not exaggerate the nose and other features that people are conscious of.

    The Canon 85mm f/1.8 is $314.95 at Adorama, after a $25 MFR Rebate, and...

    The Beginner Bee

    1 AlienBees B800 Flash Unit
    1 CB1 Single Light Carrying Bag
    1 LS3050 10-foot General Purpose Light Stand
    1 U48SW 48-inch Silver/White Reversible Bounce Umbrella

    $358.66

    Those are US prices, but should put your close, and I highly recommend both.

    Later when you get more money to spare, add another light, or 2, or the 70-200 f/2.8 IS.

    PS. If your 50mm is unreliable, by all means, buy a new one. They are so cheap, and give you another great portrait option.
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks Matt.

    The 85 F1.8 is listed at $569 at my local shop...$315 US converts to $356 CDN...If I knew it was this cheap, I would have purchased it long ago. I'll look into what shipping & brokerage fees will cost me. Sometimes buying across the border can be a big mistake because UPS or FedEx will screw you over with extra fees (where USPS will not).

    That's pretty much the Alien Bee package I was looking at...although I wanted to get a soft box as well...but is says the standard 10' stand is not recommended for soft-boxes. I took that package, traded the 10' stand for the 13' and added a soft box and it came to $540 US or so (with shipping)...so that's pretty good. (as long as I don't get screwed with too much brokerage fees).

    I could probably swing both of those...or at least get one and then the other in a month or so.

    Thanks for the help. Anyone else have any ideas for me?
     
  7. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have this lens. I do love it. And... I have used it at one wedding on the D5, but not for a lot of the images. It's nearly too wide, if you can believe that. I do a fair amount of architectural photography, and even then I sometimes have to back off and zoom in a bit. I'm told it has some chromatic aboration at the edges. I can't see it. And, I really can't see a vast improvement in going up to an "L" lens, although it is very nice.

    That's all the first-hand info I can offer.

    Oh... lights. I think your choice of the 800ws with accessories is fine. You'll be able to do quite a bit with it. Being an old fart, I've SELDOM worked with just one light, but have seen wonderful results around here.

    Keep us posted on what you decide.

    Pete
     
  8. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    And... I trust you have a decent tri-pod? I never go anywhere without one.
     
  9. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    Mike, I have the standard 10' light stand with an 800ws Bee and a Medium softbox, and it's fine. If you are conscious about it falling over, then get a bag of rocks, or a heavy bean bag to lay over the back leg of it.

    1 light and a reflector can produce great portraits.
     
  10. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks Pete.

    I think I will own the 17-40 some day...but you're right, that is really wide on full frame.

    Yes I do have a good tripod. Manfrotto 190 Professional with Camron ball head. I also have a Velbon tripod that is light but flimsy and a table top pod that lives at the bottom of my camera bag.

    I know that one light will be limiting and I would definitely be looking to get more down the road. They have a similar kit with two B400 lights but I thought I would be better off getting the B800 and learning to use a reflector. Plus, I have a peanut slave (optical trigger) that I could use with any of my flash units.

    I suppose a flash meter would be a good idea if I go with the light. Any recommendations? I don't really want to spend another $350 on a light meter at this time. I suppose I could shoot & chimp until I get what I like...but that's not very professional is it?
     
  11. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks Matt, that's the kind of inside info I was looking for. The 10' stand is $30 cheaper. :thumbsup:

    Do you think I should go with both an umbrella and a soft-box? Or should I forget about the umbrella for now?
     
  12. danalec99

    danalec99 TPF Noob!

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    So now you've selected the 85/1.8 and 50/1.8.

    I'd add a wide prime or a wide zoom - preferably 2.8 or faster. Haven't read reveiwes about the 24/2.8 and 28/2.8 yet. 24-70/2.8L is used a lot by the wedding gang. I'd also check out Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM. there is also a Tamron wide zoom which I hear is a great performer. I just can't recollect the focal lengths right now.
     

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