A GREAT question……

I had a great question the other day and thought that I would have to share it.  I love when students ask questions as they make me think and can really challenge me.

The question was “How do I know when I am ready to shoot weddings for customers?”

Wow a great question and not an easy one as well. So here is what I came up with for the student. Over the next few weeks I am going to expand on each point.

So what are the points.

Read moreA GREAT question……

My lenses

I often get asked to describe the lenses that I use and to let people know what I think of them so I will do an update on my lenses. Not a lot has changed in the past year for the lenses that I carry but I have found out a few things that changed the way that I use some of my lenses.

The lenses:

My wide angle lens is a Sigma 10 – 20 F3.5 and I love this lens for so many things. I bought it to use shooting a project and fell in love with it the first day that I used it. I missed the wide angle lenses that I had in years past and this lens made up for a number of other lenses that I gave up when I went to digital. It is sharp all the way from 10 – 20 and really worth the investment if you are looking for a wide angle lens. One note is that Sigma makes this lens in a F3.5 or a F 4 – 5.6 for the price difference for most photographers stay with the F4 – 5.6

Medium range lenses are the work horses of the studio. Christmas eve saw the sale of one of my camera systems that was the backbone of the studio for years as it was replaced by the Canon 18 – 135 that came with the 70D that I bought a year ago. The 18 – 135 is one of the best kit lenses that I have ever seen. I would rate it as a pro lens if this would not offend a number of the photo techies out there. It is sharp, fast and has a great range for shooting in the studio and out of the studio. I have not found a draw back to this lens and currently am thinking of another one for the location bag that I carry.

Another medium range lens that I have and love is the Canon 70-200 F4L. I love this lens, and use it both in the studio and on location. It is also sharp and fast. It is not a IS (image stabilizing) lens and really I find very few times that I need it or would want it.

The only fixed lens that I carry is a throw back to my film days and that is a Canon 100 F2. A GREAT lens, sharp, fast and nice and bright. With the cropped sensor that I use it is actually a 160mm F2 and works great. Amazing for those times that you need a low light lens and with enough reach to keep you out of the action in weddings, sports and news photography.

For big glass I currently only have one lens and that is the Sigma 150 – 500 5.6 – 6.  I bought this lens as I wanted a good quality lens that was above the 300mm that Canon offers as a add on to many of their packages.  I was not happy with the Canon 300 at 300 as it seemed to be soft and the versions that I tested were really slooooooooow and very soft and I was nervous about there L series that it would not be much better.  I heard about the Sigma and after trying it in store I got it for a trial and never took it back (I did pay for it 🙂 ).  I love the 500mm range and the F6 is a good aperture.  It is pretty sharp for the size and price and when it is on the 70D I am able to program the focus to make it even sharper using the focus fine adjust.  If there is a draw back it is that I find it soft at the minimum aperture settings, to beat this I have started setting the aperture at F 8 or 9 and it is so much sharper.  Another drawback when using a big lens is the time to adjust focus from close to infinity, so to beat this I have started to set the focus at infinity when I am out shooting wildlife (this is with any larger lenses so really not specific to the Sigma).

So as of today that is what I have and I am using.  Is there anything that I would change? If I was buying today I may change the 70-200 to the 2.8 but I really don’t know as the difference is so small I really don’t think it is justifiable for me for the price difference. Only in the big lens have I been thinking seriously of making a change and again this is so hard to decide on.  I have heard some good things on the Tamron 150 – 600, I read a really good review on it and at the end he compared the Sigma to the Tamron and decided that it would not be worth the difference to upgrade so that did not help me. Sigma is coming out with their own 150 – 600 and early reviews say it is amazing but this is not everyday users so I am VERY nervous to do any updating based on this.  I want to see some real reviews from everyday photographers before I am going to spend $2000 on this lens.  As well I have finally saved enough to add a Canon 800 F5.6L to my arsenal but even with the money I cannot justify it (yah I know I should just do it and get this lens). I figure the size and the cost and I would probably leave it in the vehicle a lot of times, like today when I had to walk on ice covered walkways and one slip would not be good for me or the lens.  I have heard a lot of great reviews on it but the size, cost and the fact that it is a fixed focus and I just cannot bring myself to get it, maybe when it warms up.  REALLY would like to see Canon get into some better zoom lenses like a 200 – 600 F4 or F 5.6 L series that would take the 1.4 or 2 x converter as I know that the market is there if they could keep the price around the $3000 – $5000 mark.

Buying used – a photographers guide

Buying used can save you some money, if you are careful! Well it is that time of year again when people are looking at either buying a gift for themselves or for someone else. Many people look at used.

This can be a great way to find some good deals but a few things to be careful of:

1- Before you do anything make sure that it is what you want or need. No point in spending $600.00 on a great wide angle lens when you need a telephoto or a portrait lens to do graduations.  Also no point in buying a Nikon body if you shoot Pentax, even with it being a fantastic price.

2 – Make sure what you are buying fits the equipment that you already have and will not cause any harm.  Had a lady bring in a lens last week that was amazing. Unfortunately it was for manual focus Canon cameras (before digital) and would not work with her cameras.  Many lenses will not fit today’s cameras and if they do fit some will not work correctly or at all.  Some equipment like old studio lights will ruin your camera.  I have one set at the studio that I can use as a slave (not hooked up to a camera but triggered remotely).  If I hook it up to the camera it will fry the camera in seconds. Other things like flashes will fit the camera but they do not work correctly. I have one flash that will fire when on the camera so you think it is working. But actually it fires after the shutter has opened and closed and does no good. Had a wedding photographer bring in a beautiful flash that they were told would “fit” their camera and it did fit it. It just did not work.

Check the prices.

3 –  I see a lot of  equipment advertised as “Like new”. Problem is it is priced like it is new as well.  If the equipment has been used, has no warranty,  shows any wear or tear – it should be less than new price. It should not be the same or more. Of course if it is a unusual piece or a collectors item that is different). I just saw a package deal of camera and a couple lenses for $1100 Like new. New price today is $850.00 plus GST – something is wrong with this when you can by new cheaper than used.  Also a lot of photography equipment is listed as “collector piece” and all it is good for is as a paper weight. It is not a collector piece and you can probably buy the same thing at a second hand store for a couple dollars, not the $200 that they are asking.

4 – Try it out with your equipment and take pictures with it.  Then look at the digital files (or negatives) before buying. It may look like it works but only by closer examination will you find a problem.  I remember a client bringing in a camera package that they were going to buy. I checked it out and everything looked great.  He shot a roll of film, had it developed and found that the camera had a MAJOR light leak.

5 – Don’t rush into it. “Limited time offers” or “I have another person that wants this” is more than likely a lie. Usually is done to pressure you and many times people are trying to hide something.

If you are concerned that something is not right walk away. If it feels wrong or to good to be true it usually is.

Caring for your camera card.

I am often asked about how to look after a camera card so that it will last and not give any problems.  Well a few simple ideas will help your camera card last as long, or longer than your camera.

1 – Very simple buy a good quality camera card to start with.  Sandisk,  Kingston, Lexar are three of the better card manufacturers out there.  The only time that I have seen problems with new cards is when people have bought cheap no name cards.

2- Format, format and format.  When you buy a new card  – format it before use.  After taking the files off the card and saving to your computer, format the card.  When using in different cameras format the card.  This will save a lot of problems and help your card, and the file system, to stay clean and run great.

3 – Use the card with your computers and only your computers.  If you want to take images to a friends, or to some place to have the images printed. Use a USB stick.  I hear a lot of horror stories about people taking their camera card in to get prints and the card gets corrupted or ruined. This is another reason why you should never keep pictures on your card. Once corrupted many times the images are gone forever.

4 – Don’t let your dog chew on the card or drive over it in your truck. Enough said and yes this happens.

With some care your camera card should last you a long time and take thousands of pictures without a problem.