Order of equipment purchase?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by greentrav07, Oct 22, 2009.

  1. greentrav07

    greentrav07 TPF Noob!

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    I'm just starting to really get into photography. My favorite thing to shoot is natural light portraits, especially of kids - so I often get low to the ground for my shots. A couple of frustrations: I seem to get a lot of blurry photos, and the minimum focusing distance on my lens is 4 feet, which means it is hard to get close up shots of small things, like a single flower or newborn baby hands and feet. It is also difficult to get far enough from my subject sometimes, when I am indoors, particularly if I am shooting more than one or two people. I have a Canon Rebel XT and a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L USM lens. Some purchases I'm considering: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens (shorter focusing distance and can fit more in, obviously, but wondering if distortion of my subjects would be a big concern), good tripod (to help with my "blurry" problem), new external flash (I have a very old speedlite, which I swear does nothing), Photoshop (not sure which version), and a Canon 50D. If you were to buy one of these things, which would be your first purchase? What would be the order of the rest?
     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The order in which I would purchase the items are:

    1. 24-70 - This is a 'normal' range zoom. On your DX sensor your 70-200 is more like a 105-300 which is quite long.

    2. Tripod - no serious photographer should be without a GOOD tripod.

    3. New flash - imporant, but if your main focus is on natural-light portraiture, than less so.

    4. A new body - this is the item that has just about the least amount of impact on your photos in general (Specialty requirements aside).
     
  3. shortpballer

    shortpballer TPF Noob!

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    OK,
    first Let me tell you that I have owned just about every canon lens possible. Especially the L's. I have owned every prime from 24 to 135. And every zoom from 17-40 and 16-35 up to 70-200. If you are looking for a purely walk-around lens, do not get the 24-70. I have owned two. The 24-105 is much better for PURELY walk-around. Yes you don't get as much bokeh or the 2.8. However the IS is more useful then the extra stops due to the 2.8. I have done testing with both to compare. And I have chosen to sell my 24-70 and keep the 24-105. Because I can actually shoot better under the same lighting conditions at f4 with the IS then I can at f2.8 with a shorter exposure. However if you are not considering any primes or anything with a large aperture, then get the 24-70. As I use my 24-105 for purely walk around. And when I want to take some artistic pictures, I will bust out a prime. Just my two cents.

    Tripod is important
    flash is pretty important, especially if you are shooting slow lenses.
    keep your rebel for a bit, and don't buy a 50d, 40d is better anyhow.
    Maybe save up for a while, buy the 24-105 and save your self a couple hundred over the 24-70 and buy a 7d.

    Hope this is helpful, and I didn't just ramble on.... ;)
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    Only if the OP actually knows what it's like to shoot with a 105-300mm on full frame or 35mm film SLR...otherwise 70-200mm is exactly like 70-200mm ;)

    Personally, I've never been comfortable with a 24-70mm focal length on a camera with an APS-C sensor like this. 24mm just isn't wide enough for me. I prefer something that starts around 17 or 18mm.
    Some good options would include the EF-S 17-55mm F2.8 IS, the EF 16-35mm F2.8 L and the EF 17-40mm F4L. A less expensive option would be something like the Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 (or similar from Sigma).
    If however, you find the 70-200mm only a bit too long, the 24-70mm F2.8 might be a good option.

    I definitely think that the lens is a good first purchase.
    A tripod is always good, but it will only help your 'blurry' photos if the blur if from camera movement. If the subjects are moving, you will still get blurry photos.
    A flash is nice and can help to freeze subject movement...but it may go against your 'natural light' style.

    A body upgrade can be fun, but unless you can point at some specific points that the new body can do, that your current body can't do...then your money is best spent elsewhere.
     
  5. robbie_vlad

    robbie_vlad TPF Noob!

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    If you are serious about natural light portraits, get a Canon 50 f/1.2L . A guy I know uses that lens with a majority of his portraits and the results are immaculate if you have the know how.

    After that I would personally get a 24mm f/1.4L . Then a flash. Then a tripod. Then a new body (full frame). Thats just what I would do, not saying thats what you should do.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2009
  6. IgsEMT

    IgsEMT No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Few issues to address first:
    blurry images - what shutter speed are you using? Old rule of thumb was to eliminate blur, shoot at 1/focal distance - meaning if you're zooming at 200mm then your shutter should be clicking AT LEAST at 1/200sec. Next thing is if you're shooting with wide open lens (f/2.8) you might get blur b/n what you're seeing to when you're actually depressing the shutter release since there's a chance that you moved the camera.
    Distortion: 50mm on cropped body is b/n 75-80 on full frame (depending on the crop) and normal lens is an 80 thus if you are going wider then that you will get distortion and the wider you go the more it'll be apparent, HOWEVER a lot will depend on how far you are from your subject.

    What to get: camera, lens, flash, tripod.
    Personally, I'd start with the glass first. Number of my colleagues who are Canon full frame shooters have the glass you are talking about and use that as the main lens. Another one that is also popular is 28-135 , I believe it is f/5.6. If you into more wider angle, since you already have a lens for close ups, then look into 17-40 Amazon.com: Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras: Camera & Photo It is a great lens on cropped body.

    For portraits, I love seeing catch lights Catch light - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia thus I, 99% of the time in/ourdoors shoot with the flash. Plus a flash, I think, is an integral part of photography since w/o light you can't take an image REGARDLESS of how wide you can open the lens. Thus see if you get 580exII
    Camera Body - should be you last concern, I feel, since every 12-18month a new body comes out. So getting a 50D, AS GREAT AS IT IS, right now isn't very cost effective. I think glass and flash will eliminate limitations you're facing now while getting a newer body in a year or so will only further boost your image quality.
    Equipment is great, but knowing how to use it CORRECTLY or rather effectively is more important.
    Tripod: I have mixed feelings about it only b/c if you buy a nice strong tripod, they are usually a bit bulky and taking on to the park with the camera bag and ESPECIALLY KIDS, isn't something often comfortable (at least it isn't for me) but they are great for macro work (by the way 28-135mm I mentioned above is a macro lens EOS (SLR) Camera Systems - Standard Zoom - Standard Zoom Lens - EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM - Canon USA Consumer Products).

    Last point, I'm a Nikon fan, but work with Canon a lot and have number of collegues who have Canon thus what I say is a combination b/n my opinion and others but again only an opinion.
    Good Luck and enjoy shooting :)
     
  7. shortpballer

    shortpballer TPF Noob!

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    WRONG--- check out the new 1d4 :) it can take images in the dark... It can see better then the human eye! Just wanted to point that out ;)
     
  8. bigtwinky

    bigtwinky No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Didn't read what others posters said (but looking at who posted, it should be solid advice).

    Limited to your choices and knowing that you want to do portraits, I would go with the 24-70, then the flash, then the tripod, then the 50D

    However, as you are using a crop sensor camera, the 24-70 might be a bit awkward in the wide end (for when you said you were limited in space).

    The ideal portrait focal lenght for a crop camera is around 50mm, slightly more. So to get more bang for your buck, and if you are not planning on going with a full frame camera, I'd strongly consider the 17-55mm f/2.8 EF-S lens. It would give you plenty of room for wide shots while keeping distortion to a minimum (compared to shooting at 10mm) and allow you to hit a good focal lenght for portraits in the 50-55mm range.

    I mentionned full frame as Canon lenses with an EF-S designation cannot be used on full frame cameras such as the 5D and 1D. So if you get this lens, it would be something you would need to replace down the road. If down the road is 3-5 years, then it would be a wise purchase.

    If cost isn't a huge issue, you can get a 16-35 and a 24-70, which along with your 70-200, you would cover the full range with quality lenses. But really, the 17-55 might be a great option for you. Third party lens makers like Tamron make decent similar lenses for cheaper. I have the Tamron 28-75 and love it, but I would find it tight for wide shots, which is why I have a 10-22 as well.

    I'd stay away from the 28-135. While its a capable lens, its often one that I see mentionned in threads where people are wantign to upgrade their lenses as the lens they have and want to replace

    A tripod is a must for photographers, but if you are doing portraits and mainly of kids, these buggers move fast when outdoors and you probably won't have time to setup a tripod to capture the image. So for your intended purpose, a tripod isn't a must (but you should still get one anyways).

    A flash is a key accessorie for portraits. Learning to use the light, bouncing, diffusing and so on will bring your portraits to a whole other level.

    So yeah... lens then flash then tripod then camera upgrade.
     
  9. DReali

    DReali TPF Noob!

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    I would look into this lens: Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens Review
    i have it and love it. It will give you the ability of taking photos up close without having to use a smaller apperture. it also has IS which will allow you to use slower shutter speeds. And if you truly want to get close to your subjects a close-up filter may be something to look into. Here is a shot I took using this lens http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/nature-wildlife/143866-praying-mantis.html

    Edit: I hadn't read bigtwinky's post before i wrote mine..... That said, listen to bigtwinky!
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2009
  10. grafxman

    grafxman TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    I'll take a stab at your situation but I'm no pro like many here are. The first thing I wonder about is the cause of the blurry images. Is it because of shaking? Is it because of an out of focus situation? Is your shutter speed too slow because of the low light situation? Is your ISO setting too low thus requiring a slower shutter speed? What mode are you using? A high ISO setting, I believe 1600 is the max for your camera, allows a faster shutter speed thus reducing or eliminating many blurring problems.

    I suggest, if you have been using one of the automatic modes, you try manual. Set your ISO at its maximum. Learn to manually set the shutter speed to achieve a correct exposure. Keep the diaphragm setting fairly open, say no more than the 5 or 6 range thus allowing more light through. Bear in mind a high ISO may result in a slightly noisy image.

    I see the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens you are looking at focuses to 15 inches. I have not used that lens so I can't say whether or not it's adequate to photograph baby's feet or small flowers. I use lesser quality lens, a Sigma 17-70 macro. It focuses to less than 8 inches. It's more than adequate for my needs.

    There are 2 other methods of achieving close focus with your existing lens. The least expensive way is to buy a set of Kenko tubes. They fit between the camera and the lens. There will be less light getting through the lens so exposure will take a stop or two hit, it depends on how many tubes you install and their length. The other method is obtain close focus filters. They screw on the end of the lens like a regular filter. The exposure won't take a hit with them however they do add another piece of glass and the good ones are rather expensive.

    You don't describe the environment you shoot it. If it's a formal or semi formal setting where the subject is stationary then a tripod is required. Something else is also required to my way of thinking. That would be a wireless shutter release. Many times a blurred image will result when the shutter is mashed down with too much force. Wireless releases are typically very inexpensive on ebay. The timer can be used if the subject is stationary.

    I can't comment on flash usage for your situation. I only use flash for macro photography in high magnification situations.

    I suggest you shoot RAW images and post process them with the Digital Photo Professional software that came on the DVD with your camera. I used to use Photoshop many years ago but my needs now are simple. For me, using Photoshop was sort of like owning a gold plated 200mph Ferrari to drive down to Walmart once a week. I've been plenty happy with Corel PhotoPaint for several years. Corel's PaintShop Pro is adequate for many people. I'm kind of a tight wad and I don't like to spend money on things unless I really need them or THINK I really need them like my Canon 50D which I love to bits.

    So, in summation, I believe you should really familiarize yourself with your camera and it's various capabilities. You will need a another lens or tubes or close up filters to resolve your 4 foot focusing problem. A tripod with wireless release will need to be purchased. Tripod selection should probably another topic. Shoot RAW images and process them with the DPP software. Investigate photo processing software and take your pick. Hope this helps. Good luck.
     

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