Trip to SE Asia, new to dSLR market

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by matseski, Mar 5, 2010.

  1. matseski

    matseski TPF Noob!

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    I am traveling to Singapore to participate in a 2 week engineering course, then plan to stay in the region for another 2 weeks after that, maybe hitting Indonesia, China, and Japan for a few days each, dont quite have it planned out that much yet. I have been shooting an advanced P&S for a few years, but it did not survive a rainy skiing trip. I know, probably not the best idea in the first place, but I figured why have the camera if I am not going to use it?

    So, I am in the market for a new camera, and since I am also interested in macro photography, I would like to progress to a solid dSLR system. I have been doing some research and have tried some in the stores. Based on the current lens lineup, I am leaning towards Canon for no other reason than their M-PE 65. However, I have also been lead to believe that the same results could be had with a regular macro 1:1 lens and an extension tube. Any experience with this lens and how it compares to a pieced together solution such as tubes? Note: I have no intention of purchasing this lens now as I cannot fit it into the budget with my travel and college expenses, just seemed like as good a reason as any to pick a company.

    Since I will often be using this camera on ski trips and while traveling, video would be nice so as to eliminate a device to carry, but I could probably live without it.

    On my old P&S I found that most of my pictures were taken on either end of the focal length range (25-130eqiv) or around 60-70equiv. While this does not make lens selection much easier, it is an important piece of information. As such, I am considering that I may want a full spectrum lens (18-200) and a higher quality prime (maybe 50 1.4?). However, I am concerned about the aperture of the 18-200 as most of my previous shooting was done around f2-3 not 3.5-5.6. However, I also could not really shoot above ISO 200 and it was a smaller sensor, so I may be able to achieve similar results with a higher ISO and the smaller aperture. Any thoughts?

    On this trip, I think I will be doing a lot of landscape and urban shooting, but I could be wrong. I deffintely do not want to have to carry more than 2 lenses in the SE Asian heat.

    Given that I ruined my last camera in the rain, weather sealing obviously would be near the top of my list, but from what I gather not only does it force you into the mid level bodies, but in order to receive the full benefit, you need to use one of the few weather sealed lenses, most of which are out of my budget. Does a weather sealed body buy me any protection if my lens is not?

    Some options I have been considering:

    Canon 50D or T2i for body

    Canon 18-200mm + Canon 50 1.4

    Sigma 70-200 2.8, Canon 18-135 IS

    16-32gb card

    I would like to keep the entire purchase under $2000. I am perfectly fine with buying used and I have a few months to scout out deals if need be.

    A macro lens will be my next purchase, probably Sigma 150mm 2.8 or 180 3.5.
    I am not planning on bringing a tripod on this trip.


    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2010
  2. matseski

    matseski TPF Noob!

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    After going to play with the various options in store (did not have the T2i), I feel much more comfortable with the larger body of the XX series and appreciated the brighter view finder. With those two features and the more convenient controls, I think I will forgo video at this purchase. While I would like the extra megapixels of the 50D for macro prints, I am debating whether it is worth the $200-250 difference between used bodies. It seems that ISO noise is pretty close and the controls are almost identical. Is there any other substantial difference other than the mp count?

    As for lenses, since my first use is a month long trip to Asia, I unfortunately do not have the easy specific use first lens choice. I will be visiting everything from urban centers to natural landscapes so in an ideal world, I would have the full spectrum of focal lengths. However, that is not the case, so I need to start narrowing my requirements. As I said, I know the general focal length and aperture uses based on my previous camera. What it basically says is that I like to shoot on extremes, extreme wide, telephoto and then in the middle for human subjects. Given that both telephoto and wide angle lenses are expensive, I do not think I can afford both now with a 50mm or so for the middle. (2000--600(40D)-700(tele)-500(wide)-100 (cf card)-50(shipping)=1950. So, If you were going on an extended trip and could only bring 2 lenses, which would they be? (please keep total cost under $1500). I would really like a long macro lens if possible (Sigma 150 or 180).

    I a sure this has bee asked before but I could not find it through a search.

    Thanks for the help
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2010
  3. matseski

    matseski TPF Noob!

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    The more I research the more I change my mind.

    After some 3rd party lens searching, I came upon the Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 VC. It seems to be getting good results, but there is some mention of its non VC version having better optical properties. Does anyone have any experience with both who could comment on this?

    How would that Tamron pair with a Sigma 180mm 3.5 macro as a starter setup? I realize that the long end is limited, but I really want a nice macro lens.
     
  4. matfoster

    matfoster TPF Noob!

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    just to recap - what have you decided on thus far?
     
  5. matseski

    matseski TPF Noob!

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    I have yet to purchase anything, so nothing really. I am pretty sold on Canon's lens line up, mainly due to their specialized lenses (65 mpe). Absolute max budget is $2k, but closer to $1.5k would be better.

    I need a "full" set for this upcoming trip, so I am trying to maximize focal length range and usability (large apertures) while minimizing weight and number of lens changes. I think that I can only really afford 2 decent lenses, so I am trying to devise a kit that will give me the most options both for the trip and over the next 6 months or so until my funds recover. As I said, I really like macro photography, so, if at all possible, I would like a long macro lens to start. That being said, I could obviously do without it if it meant for a much broader starting kit, but I may need some convincing.

    current lenses under consideration
    Sigma 180mm 3.5 ~$600 used *
    Tamron 16-50mm 2.8 non VC ~$420*
    Canon 50mm 1.4 ~$300 used
    Canon 18-200mm ~$500
    Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 ~$700
    Canon 28-135mm ~$250

    * currently leaning towards these as it gives me a good wide-mid zoom and a great telephoto/macro. A little concerned about lack of coverage in the 50-180 range though.

    On the bodies, I am thinking that I can forgo video for the better build quality and button functionality of the XXD series. That gives me either the 40D (~$600 used) or 50D (~$850 used). From what I understand the only real difference is mp count, both have comparable noise levels, features, AF, burst rate, build, eye piece. Since I like to print as large as I can afford, the extra MP of the 50D would not be missed, but it would cause me too have to put off a flash (430exII) for a while which will make non-studio macro more difficult.

    Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2010
  6. matfoster

    matfoster TPF Noob!

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    what makes a macro so important to you for this trip? nature pictures?

    comparing the T2i and the 50D, i'd pick the T2i. it has the broader ISO range capability.
    thoughts on the 2nd lens. you're going through 3 large countries in 2 weeks. assume staying in big cities. you'll want a wide to mid long lens for architecture and locations; the longer throw for discreet/semi-obstructed photography of everyday scenes from life (eg crowded markets.)
     
  7. matfoster

    matfoster TPF Noob!

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    what you need i someone familiar with the 65 macro. i am not.
     
  8. matseski

    matseski TPF Noob!

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    Thats the only reason why I am hesitant about pulling the trigger on a macro lens. While it has limited uses on the trip besides being a nice telephoto, I think that will be my primary lens for the rest of my shooting both before and after the trip. If I had to choose only one type of photography to focus on, it would be macro as I really enjoy seeking out and composing the details of the world into pieces of art.

    You are correct in that I will be focusing on major cities/tourist stops.

    Does the T2i have lower noise or just a larger range? I am coming from a camera that anything over 200 was unusable. The video features of the T2i would certainly be used as would the extra resolution. However, I have yet to see any real release date and cannot find anyone who has one in stock. Any idea on when I may actually be able to get one?

    After playing with both the 50D and T1i in the store today for about an hour, I definitely appreciated the wheel on the back and screen on the top.

    The 65 MPE is a specialized macro only lens capable of 5x magnification. It is expensive, more or less requires additional lighting, and is supposedly rather difficult to use due to its razor thin dof. It is often suggested that a tripod with focusing rails is the best way to go. As none of that is in my budget or within my experience range, it is, at this point, no more than a reason to go Canon as opposed to Nikon. I cannot come up with a better reason based on current body design and the rest of their lens kits are pretty comparable.
     
  9. matfoster

    matfoster TPF Noob!

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    i'm offering suggestions as a reader of dpreview.com rather than a user. the specs of both the T2i and the 50D are summarised there. (also sample pictures and the T2i looks fine at 1600ISO to me.)
     
  10. matfoster

    matfoster TPF Noob!

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    if you were a dedicated macro shooter with burning desire to find certain wildlife/fauna in the far east i wouldn't question the purpose of spending a chunk of money on the 65. it seems perhaps though, that the dilemma is complicating your purchasing decisions and a case of the tail wagging the dog. even the 18-55 kit lens is "ok" for close-up shots...and that lens is bundled in with a body for only a $100. there are plenty of macro shooters on TPF who i'd guess could suggest a couple of better macros than that for about $250-500. i've used only old manual lenses for close-up, or cheapo AFs.
     
  11. matseski

    matseski TPF Noob!

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    Maybe I was not clear in my previous postings. The 65MPE is not something that I plan on purchasing for this trip or even within the next year. I feel that I need more experience that I can more easily gained with a regular macro lens first (let alone the additional costs). The only macro lenses that I am considering are the Sigma 180mm and 150mm (will probably get whichever is cheaper) which can also double as a great longer telephoto. However, as I said, if I go this route, I will have nothing in the 50-150 range which scares me a little as I really dont know what 180x1.6=288mm means in terms of what I can/cannot photograph. I have never shot with anything that gives me an equivalent focal length in that range before. I am the type of shooter who likes to fill the frame with my subject.

    If I am shooting a person on the street and want to capture a waist to head shot, about how far would I have to stand away from them compared to a 80mm equiv?
     
  12. matfoster

    matfoster TPF Noob!

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