SUGGESTIONS ON NEW EQUIPMENT PURCHASES PLEASE!!!

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Kimberly81, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. Kimberly81

    Kimberly81 TPF Noob!

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    Ok so I have been shooting with my Canon XSi with KIT LENS (omg) ever since I bought it. I have not upgraded a thing and it is SO TIME! I have some indoor lighting ( I usually prefer to shoot outdoors ) and I have a nice reflector, but I feel it is time for more fun stuff to play with ;)

    These are the items I have in mind, opinions, reviews, suggestions NEEDED. I am on a budget of $1000 or less:
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    Canon Speedlite 580EX II $389.99
    Manufacturer Description

    Further development of Canon's flagship Speedlite has led to the production of the 580 EX II. This is the premier Speedlite for all photographers, including professionals. Newly designed to match with the EOS-1D Mark III in terms of improved dust- and water-resistance, body strength, and the ability to control flash functions and settings from the camera menu (EOS-1D Mark III only). Other features include improved communication reliability through its direct contacts, and recycling time is both 20% shorter than the 580EX and is completely inaudible. Speedlite 580EX II Flash Highlights


    • Approximately 20 percent faster recycling time compared to 580EX
    • Superior build quality, including a metal foot for higher rigidity
    • Max Guide No. 58 at 105mm setting (GN 190, feet)
    • Auto conversion of flash coverage with compatible digital SLR cameras
    • White Balance info communicated instantly to compatible digital SLR cameras
    • Full swivel, 180 degrees in either direction
    • AF-assist beam, compatible with all AiAF points on every EOS SLR
    • Dust- and water- resistance to match the EOS-1D Mark III



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    Interfit Photographic Strobies Portrait Kit for Shoe Mount Flashes $149.99
    Technical Details


    • Provides all you need to create exactly the right lighting no matter where you are
    • Includes 6 high-quality attachments with unique lighting properties
    • Makes it easy to customize your standard flash unit to produce outstanding portraits
    • Includes Beauty Dish, Globe Diffuser, Snoot, Barndoor, Softbox and Honeycomb Grid
    • *IMPORTANT* Must be used with Strobies Flex Mount (sold separately) in order to secure attachments to flash unit
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    Interfit Photographic Strobies Flex Mount SGM400 to fit Canon 580EX /550EX Flash $7.95
    Product Description

    Each item in the Interfit Portrait kit uses a Flex Mount which "requires no glue, Velcro or rubber bands" to make a secure fit on your flashgun. You can easily swap between the Beauty Dish or the Globe Difuser in seconds.

    ______________________________________________________________

    Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras $379.95
    Product Description

    A highly practical medium telephoto lens with superb delineation and portability, the Canon EF 85mm lens produces sharp and clear images at all apertures. Through computer simulations, the lens has been designed to give beautiful background blur, thereby bringing your subject into crisp view. The ring-type ultra-sonic monitor (USM) and fast f/1.8 aperture, meanwhile, helps the subject zip into focus in the viewfinder. And because the front lens group does not rotate during focusing, special filter effects are not affected. Best of all, the standard zoom lens--with its natural angle of view and perspective--captures the subject plainly, making it excellent for portraits and images that require a natural depth of field. As with all Canon lenses, the lens carries a one-year warranty.

    • Focal length: 85mm
    • Maximum aperture: 1:1.8
    • Lens construction: 9 elements in 7 groups
    • Diagonal angle of view: 28 degrees (at 30 feet)
    • Focus adjustment: Rear focusing system with USM
    • Closest focusing distance: 2.8 feet
    • Filter size: 58mm
    • Dimensions: 3 inches in diameter, 2.8 inches long
    • Weight: 15 ounces


    GRAND TOTAL FOR EVERYTHING: $927.88
     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I get the need for a 580-II and an 85/1.8; both are excellent pieces of equipment. I own both,and think highly of them. But honestly, I think the Interfit portrait kit looks a bit "gimmicky",and at $150 + the eight buck for the mount, I just honestly do not think the accessories have as much "real" value and "real-world" usefulness as something as simple as a lightstand, umbrella bracket, and a decent $20 convertible umbrella.

    The Interfit kit's accessories are very cleverly-designed, and they look okay--but you know, a snoot is not that good an accessory,and barn doors on a speedlight--sorry, but kind of ridiculous. The globe reflector? Not much larger than a Sto-Fen, giving perhaps 2 feet longer a shooting range with soft light.

    I think a portable AC/DC monolight with 7 inch reflector, like the SP Studio Systems 160-watt-second monolight, with battery pack and light stand for $335 might be a better use of funds if you are interested in lighting portraits or locations. This a is an AC OR battery-powered system,and has been on the market for about 10 years now--longer than the 580-II in fact. I am just "assuming" you want to move into Strobist type work; if not, perhaps the 580-II would be the better choice. But that Interfit kit...those accessories just do not appear to be well-suited for use on a speedlight.

    Maybe if we knew what your goals were, we could give better advice. I think the 85/1.8 is the highest value for dollar lens in the Canon lineup. It's small,light,sharp,and well-made.
     
  3. Kimberly81

    Kimberly81 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the great reply! I want to improve my portrait photography, I primarily prefer to shoot outdoors and use natural soft lighting. I only use my soft boxes indoors if I have to. Here are a couple of my more recent shots to give you an idea of what I like to shoot and how my images come out. I am trying to get a soft even lighting on my subjects. These two in particular were unexpected shots at a friends wedding, I could not resist the overcast lighting but I didn't have my reflector with me so this is simply natural light with no flash at all.

    ( I also have more photos in my gallery on this site )

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  4. thebeatles

    thebeatles TPF Noob!

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    Your flickr photos are great, considering you are using an xsi with kit lens!
    What indoor lighting are you using?
     
  5. Kimberly81

    Kimberly81 TPF Noob!

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    I have 2 soft boxes and a reflector, I usually only use one soft box at a time when shooting though for a more directional light affect... I have no idea if that is the correct way to do it, but I like how it looks so I go with it LOL.

    Here is a photo I took using my soft box a little off to the right and the reflector on a boom arm at about her waist level just in front of her tilted slightly toward her face... she was being goofy and we had a ton of fun that day

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2009
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    New day now. I looked at your gallery samples--you do great work with the reflector, which gives nice eye sparkle. I see you have two softboxes; I would probably consider adding more flash equipment that would work with the softboxes. My suggestion of the SP Studio Systems AC/DC monolight was for outdoor work with plenty of flash power, plus the versatility of a monolight with a small modeling lamp and AC wall power capability as well as location ability off of the battery.

    It looks like you've gotten reasonably far along with what you have already. What you are running the softboxes with today is a mystery to me; if it is Canon speedlights, perhaps you'd want to buy into that system more. Alternately, you might want to consider Vivitar 285HV's at $89.95 with free shipping from Adorama; the same general power class as the 580-II, over four times less costly.

    Equipment issues are tough; I still am not fully sure what equipment you have, flash-wise. The manufacturers' speedlights have grown very expensive, and the monolight choices and portable power solutions have become less costly, and the ages-old 285HV has been brought back to life with the Strobist movement.
     
  7. Kimberly81

    Kimberly81 TPF Noob!

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    I use absolutely no flash equipment as of right now. When I shoot outside I use nice shaded areas to shoot in, when I shoot indoors I use one ... MAYBE two... softboxes (dedicated light), no strobes.

    I am just now getting into the flash side of things, I really just want a nice easy to carry flash head with some sort of bounce/diffuser that will give me better, more even exposures subtly, and I want a lens that will give me a nice soft bokeh background making my subject more sharply at the eyes focus.

    Flash scares me, I won't lie, but I think it's time I gave it a shot (no pun intended hehe)
     
  8. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    And that's why your outside portraits are short on 'pop'. You're not getting enough separation of your subjects from the background and not enough 'modeling' from shadows on their faces.

    The next step is to use "Strobist' strobed (speedlight) lighting and reflector techniques for your outdoor photography. www.strobist.com
     
  9. Kimberly81

    Kimberly81 TPF Noob!

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    Which is exactly why I want to add the speedlite and upgrade my lens :)
     
  10. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Flash outdoors is not nearly as simple as flash indoors. The Strobist web site will give you a good idea of some of the popular equipment for flash lighting. If you really want to use wide apertures with flash outdoors, the 580 EX-II with its capability to do high-speed flash synchronization at wide apertures, will be a good feature.

    If you are okay with using smaller apertures, you can get by using almost any electronic flash, but you will be limited by the camera's top flash synchronization speed (usually 1/200 second) and the aperture that pairs with that shutter speed (usually small in bright daylight, from f/16 to f/11) at the lowest ISO speed your camera will shoot at.

    If you want to add more versatility to your outdoor work using the reflector, you might wish to consider adding a *subtractive* (black) reflector to position over or to the side of your subjects, a la the late Monte Zucker's instructional articles and videos. This would allow you to create backlighted or sidelighted subjects by creating your own shade.
     

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