Equipment Opinions - Canon

alycat06

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Hi!

I've been a photographer for about 5 years and am at the point where I've maxed out the level that my T2i can provide. It's been a great and I still love it, but I want to keep learning and improving and I feel like a body is the next step I have to make.
I'm doing photography as a side job mostly because I get so many requests for it and I have trouble saying no. I do charge, so I make money at it, but not enough to make a living.

My site: www.personalytiesphotography.com

I do mostly portrait, senior, theatre (both stage and headshots for actors) and family photography. I don't do weddings, stress me out too much.

Here's what I currently have:
Body
-Canon T2i w/ battery grip
Lenses
-50mm 1.8
-Tamron AF 28-75mm 2.8 (just got a couple weeks ago)
-75-250mm 4
-18-55mm 4
Lighting
-5-in-one reflector
-2 white umbrellas w/ stands
-lights
-backdrops
-Cheap flash
-Remote flash release (haven't tried yet)


I'd love opinions on what to get. I really think the Canon 5D Mark III is what I'm wanting to upgrade to, but the cost is high so I want to make sure I'm getting the right one. I'm also needing some flash opinions (I have a cheap flash that is okay, but honestly never use a flash really). I'm looking for an 85mm 1.8 lens currently, but I ended up getting the Tamron AF 28-75mm 2.8 for a realllllly good price so I'm still looking/saving. Any advice on lighting stuff (I have 2 backgrounds and 2 lights w/ umbrellas and a 5-in-one reflector) I should have, lenses, etc would be greatly appreciated. I normally take natural light photos - I've never had luck with indoor because I just don't have the set-up for it.
 

Scatterbrained

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Have you considered buying used? You can get a 5DIII used for $1800, assuming you can find one. ;)
 

Solarflare

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Wouldnt be a 5D2 be almost as good a camera as the 5D3 ? Google says its close to 1000$ used now.

(Mind, I'm no Canonist, but thats what I heard)
 

Derrel

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I looked at your site. You're doing pretty alright. You could go with any number of new bits of gear...new body, or flash units + stands + modifiers, whatever. You've got a good base and the results are good, but you probably would like a camera that has a bigger viewfinder, a better finder image, maybe some better High ISO and low-light capability. Personally, I'd tell you to buy a Nikon D750, since your lens set is not very expensive, nor all that capable, and the D750 is in most ways, I think a newer, better 5D-III competitor. Full-frame at 24 MP on the new Sony sensors has a tremendous crop-capability, and low,low noise and wide dynamic range, and more post-processing latitude than the Canon sensors have. But, looking at your T2i work, you'd do well with even a 5D Mark Two, or a Nikon D610, and two zooms.

You might want to try a good flash unit, or two, or three low-priced ones. A lot of people want to go Made in China and $69 on flash units...I have owned the 580 EX-II, 24-105 L,70-200/2.8 IS, 50/85/135 Canon and the 5D classic....that is a very capable kit if you can shoot at ISO 800, or own flash...it is STILL a very,very good camera with flash lighted images. I thought the 580 EX-II flash was very,very good as a TTL speedlight. But, what you want, and need all depends on what you want to shoot with.

I dunno...it might take you a year to learn how to shoot with flash. I'm not sure what your goals are, or if you want to keep on being natural light and doing no indoor work due to a lack of equipment; I think buying 3 low-priced monolights and two Buff brand Vagabond portable power sources and four light stands and a little bit of grip gear for the lights MIGHT be a better use of $600 than anything else you could buy...

Your website makes me think that almost ANY high-quality, capable basic pro-type gear would be of use to you. There are plusses to body-centric, lens-centric-and lighting-centric upgrade paths for somebody like you. Full-frame changes the whole lens issue, and what does what. BUDGET is another huuuuuuuuge issue!
 

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Hi!

I've been a photographer for about 5 years and am at the point where I've maxed out the level that my T2i can provide.
Hi, yourself! I missed your welcomes and introductions post, so welcome!

I think you can still squeeze some decent performance from your current gear, so keep trying.
 
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alycat06

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If the 5D Mark II is sufficient for my needs, that's great - upgrading to that body is a big purchase for me...I know around here that seems like a drop in the bucket, but I'm not a full time photographer and I work at a non-profit, so I don't have a ton to spend on equipment. I don't want to switch to Nikon because even though my lens kit seems low cost enough to replace, it's not financially doable for me...and I like Canon. I take learning photography very seriously and I feel like I've spent time learning on Canon, so I don't want to switch just now. If I'm making that purchase, I'd rather spend a little extra to get the Mark III if it's worth the extra $$$ than get the Mark II, be more cost conservative and wish I'd gotten the Mark III. That's what I was really hoping to gather.

My main goals (aside from just overall improvements. I'm also REALLY working on my editing skills, so all of what is on my website is mostly lightroom adjusting with Photoshop touches, but now I'm actually getting into artistic action use, etc in Photoshop):
-Improve theatre photography (there's a huge need for theatre photography in this area and with a company I'm involved with)
-Improve senior photography
-Improve actor headshot photography

Lighting is where I'm really lacking an understanding of what even to buy. I see flashes for $400+ and while I understand the cost variations for lenses and bodies now that I've studied, I just don't have the knowledge to utilize/understand what a $400 flash does compared to a $60 flash. I don't really like indoor photography because I don't have the equip I need to produce results I want and I don't think I can get that for anywhere cost effective right now. But I'd like to add flash photography to my skill set so I'm still learning and can use it when I have to for events.
 

Designer

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Lighting is where I'm really lacking an understanding of what even to buy. I see flashes for $400+ and while I understand the cost variations for lenses and bodies now that I've studied, I just don't have the knowledge to utilize/understand what a $400 flash does compared to a $60 flash. I don't really like indoor photography because I don't have the equip I need to produce results I want and I don't think I can get that for anywhere cost effective right now. But I'd like to add flash photography to my skill set so I'm still learning and can use it when I have to for events.
Event photography and in particular theatrical photography will probably limit your use of flash.

So there is a conflict in your goals/thinking. Flash is probably the surest way to see a marked improvement in your results, but most stage productions will not allow flash.
 
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alycat06

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Right - flash is for the stuff that's an indoor event where they want me to get posed images. With the T2i, my ISO gets sooooo grainy (in my opinion) at 6400. So I was hoping an improved body would help that. I just got hired at a new job and I'm taking a lot of indoor events in schools and places with terrible lighting. Event photography is by no means my passion, more a necessity for my career. I keep seeing the Lumenator advertised...is it any good?

For what I enjoy, theatre photography, I definitely need lenses and a body with good ISO that will help me achieve those goals. Most of my theatre photography is not on my website - it's used for promotional stuff on the company's site, so I don't tend to use it on my photography site.

What I think a flash could help me with is the headshot and senior photography goals. I find myself needing to scout better colored backgrounds and a secondary light source to balance light based on the time of day people are able to meet me. Actors need low cost, great headshots when they're starting out and I have many friends that simply use really old stuff, or terrible photos because they can't afford any professional headshots. They're actors, just trying to afford rent is a struggle. So I want to help new actors get a bump. Once they're established, I encourage them to support photographers by spending $500+ on a great set of headshots.

Same with seniors. The company I help with has a huge range of kids and social status. While I have a few clients who are well off and hire me at my cost (obviously not high end cost as I'm still growing and don't feel I'm at that point by any means), I offer my services free or really low cost to kids who are unable to get the $500-$800 that the kids right beside them are able to get. I want kids to feel special and get beautiful photos no matter where they come from. It's upsetting when kids only have a selfie to put in all the senior slideshows...I saw that happening and it broke my heart to see how embarrassed they looked sometimes. I do a free photoshoot for all the seniors in the company both for company promotion (the group photos) and as a thank you to them for years of loyalty (very small sessions of individual pics) as a way to get at least every kid in our company one usable senior photo that's not a selfie.

That was long, but just to explain my goals/why I can't jump full in to huge costs right now. I wanted to join a forum like this for exactly the advice I've seen around here - how can I best improve my skills with steps of financial output. I'll save up, I just can't go out and drop 5K tomorrow, so I want to improve in steps of financial output. :)
 
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Scatterbrained

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You could always go with a used 6D for about $1k. I'd go that way before I went for a 5DII (and I own a 5DII). A used 580exII would serve you very well for indoor shooting, and can be coupled with your umbrella for portraits. What kind of lights do you currently have BTW?
 
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alycat06

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What kind of lights do you currently have BTW?

I have a cheap directional flash I got off Amazon - nothing special, but I got it just to have one I could point in another direction. I also have remote triggers for two flashes, but haven't tried them yet.

Other than that, I got this lighting kit and have used it a little. The lights look bright, but they don't seem to output as much light as I expected.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0058K1OZM?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00
 

Derrel

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Compact fluorescent light kits really are NOT very powerful, and they do NOT put out much light at all. They look good on-line, and make a good-looking web advertisement, but the problem is the photographs need to be made at slooooooooow shutter speeds at moderately large f/stops, rendering that type of light source of dubious value for people work. FLASH on the other hand, offers a very brief, and substantially brighter, more-powerful source of light for photography. it's almost deceptive advertising to see the way these fluoro lighting kits are sold to so many unsuspecting people. This is happening world-wide on the internet.

When it comes right down to it, something like 40-inch convertible umbrellas and moderately-priced speedlights mounted onto umbrella swivel mounts is a much better,low-cost solution for people work. However, saving money really is not the critical factor: you want the images to look GOOD, and for that I think studio flash units do a better job, especially for beginning shooters. I think the $99 Adorama Flashpoint 320M monolights are the best bang-for-buck deal...LESS, far,far,far less than a Canon speedlight, but with 3x the power AND a modeling light in the flash unit, to make it easier to focus and also, to keep the subject's pupil constricted, so they have some eye coloration visible!

Speedlight portraiture often has people rendered with big, glassy, BLACK-pupiled, widely-dialated eyes....looks great if you want people to look like they're overdosing. The other thing is, shooting with speedlights and umbrellas or softboxes is shooting blind; you can not actually SEE how the light is falling on the subject at all times during the shoot. The more experienced lighting person can use a speedlight pretty well and fairly easily, but there's not a real substitute for real-time, constant modeling light to keep the pupils small, and for actually being able to SEE what the lighting effect is as the person moves and poses.
 

beagle100

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I would vote for the flash or maybe the 6D (refurb) at $1,099
 

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