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Author Topic: Photography Questions  (Read 4068 times)

Josh

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Photography Questions
« on: December 20, 2008, 12:31:35 AM »
OK Community, you haven't failed me yet, let's see if the record can be upheld. My wife is about to start school for a BFA (Followed by a masters of fine arts) in photography. As such, the initial set of classes is where she will be making a major purchase of her equipment which will be used throughout the course. The pre-reqs call for the following:

  • Adobe Photoshop CS2/CS3 (I am actually buying CS4 since I can get the student copy of CS4 Extended Edition for 199)
  • DSLR Camera with interchangeable lenses. The lens it comes with MUST have a focal length of 18-55mm. I was looking at the Canon EOS 40d which seems to have all she needs and will be a decent system for her use throughout the course (Or until they require us buy more lenses, etc)
  • Light Meter (No specification on type, just a light meter). I am going with the Sekonic L-308S
  • Colorimeter - Corrects and adjusts coloring on your system monitor. The school recommends Spyder 2 Express
  • Tripod - We have decided on the Velbon DF-40 which has the support for 10lbs of weight. The school calls for one which supports at least 11lbs, but we cannot find one which is anywhere near what I would consider a resonable price.

Now, that said, I would like your input on the camera system, tripod and light meters. The camera, from what I can tell, appears to be a good choice to last at least half way through, if not all the way, her college class set for the next 4-5 years. Are there better options, if so what are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Why do you recommend them? Ditto for the light meter and tripod. The colorimeter is the one the school recommends on their site so we are going with that one.

Any input is appreciated. Thanks!

rjbull

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Re: Photography Questions
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2008, 04:12:28 AM »
Tripod - I use a Manfrotto (probably Bogen to you?) 055.  It's a good solid tripod, but by the time you've added a head, FLM CB38FT in my case, plus Manfrotto quick release, it weighs about 6 lb, which she might find too heavy.  Tripod is rated for 7 kg, though, more than your specification.  There's someone on eBay UK who sells ex-demo Velbon carbon fibre tripods, which might get the price and weight down.  My "photo guru" in Wales says the Velbon magnesium ball  head is very good - I think he means the bigger one.  Don't skimp on a tripod: it's not just about stability and sharpness, it's about slowing you down, making you think, and giving you the chance to look all round the edges for the little things that ruin your composition.  In other words, wherever it's reasonably possible to use a tripod, use it to help you make the most perfect picture you can make.  Take a look at some of Freeman Patterson's books, especially the instructional ones, for advice on tripods, including what to look for in a tripod you travel with as well as use in a studio.

Meter - the Sekonic is popular and seems OK and to work well, though I haven't used one.  I have an old Weston, great with Invercone for reasonable light, and a Gossen Digital Sixtomat Flash, which is excellent, small, light and easy to use.  They no longer make the flash version but only the ambient-light one, fine if you don't want flash, or the more expensive Digipro F that I haven't tried.  I recently bought a secondhand Pentax Digital Spotmeter but haven't had much experience with it yet.  It was very popular model with the Zone System brigade.


tomos

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Re: Photography Questions
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2008, 05:39:39 AM »
have you checked out that lens -  it might be worth buying lens separately (even if you mightn't stick with the camera) - well, research it anyway.

here's one site
http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/index.php
it's affiliated with
http://www.imaging-resource.com/
which is my first stop for camera reviews (they review full range of cameras - pro included)

one of the camera forums might be good place to post if you havent already
(above or steve's digicams http://forums.steves...digicams.com/forums/ )
Tom

Dormouse

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Re: Photography Questions
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2008, 06:02:30 AM »
  • DSLR Camera with interchangeable lenses. The lens it comes with MUST have a focal length of 18-55mm. I was looking at the Canon EOS 40d which seems to have all she needs and will be a decent system for her use throughout the course (Or until they require us buy more lenses, etc)

Whatever anyone says, it's best not to choose a camera without trying it in hand, trying the control system (buttons and menus) etc. Some people adjust quickly from one system to another, some find one system much more intuitive than others. How the camera feels, size etc also makes a difference. We all do better with a camera that feels right.

Also worth looking at photos made with the different systems by 'ordinary' photographers. All makes produce good cameras, but color tones and the general look of a photo vary in a significant way - even if you shoot raw and do a lot of PP.

Once decent (ie expensive) lenses are bought, that becomes an extra disincentive to change makes. So buying the brand that feels best at the beginning is worth the effort. There does tend to be a consistency within each brand in the types of body, control systems and tones etc. And remember, in the end, most photographers end up with far more money invested in lenses than in camera bodies.

At the very least, I'd try Canon, Nikon and Sony (all likely to be around long-term; Canon and Nikon well-established; Sony fast expanding market share from its Minolta/Sony base); and I'd also try to look at Pentax and Olympus, though they'd have to feel very attractive to make me go with their systems at this stage). All capable of producing good photos.

I assume that it doesn't have to be an 18-55 lens, just one that covers that range?

Josh

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Re: Photography Questions
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2008, 06:08:12 AM »
That is correct, only has to cover the 18-55 range. Right now, I am being pushed in the Sony direction but from what I read, the quality at higher exposure levels (ISO Levels) tends to be a bit noisy when compared to the somewhat more expensive canon. We were looking at the Sony A200 and the Canon 40d.

Dormouse

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Re: Photography Questions
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2008, 06:36:39 AM »
That is correct, only has to cover the 18-55 range. Right now, I am being pushed in the Sony direction but from what I read, the quality at higher exposure levels (ISO Levels) tends to be a bit noisy when compared to the somewhat more expensive canon. We were looking at the Sony A200 and the Canon 40d.

A lot of fuss is made about high ISO differences, but most photos are taken in low ISO, and the differences between the brands at high ISO are actually very small and not easily noticed on prints at most normal sizes. Any difference in quality between the lenses on the cameras will be greater.

The counter argument tends to be that Canon photos look 'plastic' because of the in-camera noise reduction which smoothes things out. (And whatever claims are made, ALL digital cameras do have in-camera NR)

You always need to think whether any differences important to pixel peepers will be differences you will actually notice in your own real life use.

High ISO photos on Sony are generally best taken in RAW and not PPd with ACR, but again whether you will notice the difference is pretty moot.

If you are worried about high ISO, download copies of photos you like taken by the camera in question at high ISO and have them printed at relevant sizes (or just check them out on your monitor - worth remembering that not all monitors are really worth trying to calibrate, so worth thinking about monitors too - potentially $£$£). Remember a lot of stuff on the web is either too small in resolution, or done at 100% making it too big.

You have to be really cynical when reading stuff on the web about cameras, whether they are reviews or comments. Most, if not all, are done by people with a commitment to one system and much less experience of others.

If you are interested in Sony, it is worth visiting photoclubalpha. The photog who runs the site has extensive experience of Sony and Minolta - but also of other systems - and one of the most frequent posters seems to think of nothing but extremely high ISOs.

Lutz_

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Re: Photography Questions
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2008, 10:26:09 AM »
The closest equivalent of the Canon 40D should be the Sony A700 (and not the far cheaper A200). I am confident that the A200 should be fine for the course, but the A700 is in another class (fast focussing and a bigger brighter viewfinder, far smoother shutter mechanism, features.... and certainly heavier). I would not want to be without the in-body image stabilization of the Sony (too much coffee in my system).; the image stabilization of the Pentax K10 did not work as well for me, but I have heard good things about the Olympus anti-shake  (I loved the handling and ergonomics of the Pentax, though).
Cameras from all DSLR suppliers should fit the requirements of the course; your wife should definitely try them out. In my experience women tend to be much more choosy regarding the ergonomics of the camera.
Feisol makes very well regarded tripods sold per mail-order from Taiwan. You could get a light carbon fiber tripod there for the same price as a regular tripod from the big name brands.
http://www.feisol.co...english/feisolen.htm
http://www.feisol.ne...-tripods-c-1_12.html
« Last Edit: December 23, 2008, 10:31:51 AM by Lutz_ »

Dormouse

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Re: Photography Questions
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2008, 04:53:36 PM »
Another point worth considering is the lens.
 
If you were to get the A200 (and money weren't a major issue), it would probably be worth getting it with the extremely well regarded Sony or Tamron 18-250 lens (which would make it more equivalent to the Canon 40D in price, but produce much better quality output; putting a decent lens on the Canon would push its cost even higher).

Can't emphasize enough that making the best of any of these cameras means putting on a much better quality lens than comes in the kit.

The 18-250 seems to be exceptional value for money (rather like the A200) and also adds a much greater range (and is said to be pretty good along the whole range). A lot of people seem to use it as their only lens, even when they have a number of decent lenses to choose from. Works very well on the A700 too.

I'd want to repeat that I'm not trying to recommend the A200. The essence, as Lutz_ said, is trying all the options out.

Josh

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Re: Photography Questions
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2008, 11:38:51 PM »
OK Folks, here is what we went with. After discussing with many people the different capabilities of each camera body, we decided to stop focusing so much on the body as we did the lens being included in the kit or purchased apart from the body. We finally settled on the Canon 50D, 15.1 MP, with the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens. This lens seems to receive great reviews and is regarded as a good all-around lens which can be used as a "Leave on" lens. DPReviews.com and PDNGearGuide.com both regarded this lens highly as did several other sites. One site complained of barrel creep if the lens was to be used in macro mode and wasn't zoomed out to 200mm already, but we shall see if that is really an issue.

For the money, it made sense to go with a camera that came with this lens as part of it's STOCK kit rather than purchasing the body and camera separately (as we were considering with the 40d).

We also settled on a sunpak tripod. Although it is not as light, due to not being carbon-fiber, it does support what is required for the class.

I thank you all for your input and I hope this thread can continue to thrive to serve as a good once-over for people considering similar inputs. All of you have been very helpful and I thank you for your assistance. This is why I love donationcoder.com and the people who dwell/lurk within.

Thanks again!

Lutz_

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Re: Photography Questions
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2008, 11:02:32 AM »
Josh,
Sorry, but you are not done yet!!!!
You have to get at least the Tamron 17-50 2.8 lens for indoor pictures (or the Sigma 18-50, 2.8 ). I seriously doubt that you would enjoy the camera without it. 
  :D   :huh:  :D
Welcome to DSLRs, btw.

Josh

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Re: Photography Questions
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2008, 11:11:27 AM »
Which is better quality? Tamron or sigma?

Lutz_

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Re: Photography Questions
« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2008, 08:40:34 PM »
I believe the Sigma is sharper in the center and has a pretty good macro range and a very solid build; the Tamron might not be as super-sharp in the center but very good over the entire field of view; it is also usually cheaper (more plastics; I have only used the Tamron, which is my always-on lens).
Have fun with your current equipment first !!!
Which is better quality? Tamron or sigma?
« Last Edit: December 24, 2008, 09:51:20 PM by Lutz_ »

Josh

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Re: Photography Questions
« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2008, 10:31:30 PM »
OK, Here is another question for you photo-nuts out there.

What is a good MACRO lens? My wife loves taking UP CLOSE pictures of various aspects of nature, hence why I asked nudone to construct a site for her, and as such a MACRO lens is just about a necessity. Her current 18-200 lens (Canon EF-S) can do some macro shots, but I have a feeling a dedicated lens would be best suited for the job.

Thoughts? Quandries? Concerns?
« Last Edit: January 10, 2009, 11:28:26 AM by Josh »

Lutz_

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Re: Photography Questions
« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2008, 11:13:05 PM »
The Macro lens will depend very much on the motifs. For live bugs, for example, you will need a greater distance to the objects - meaning longer focal length.
The most standard 90 or 100 mm macros lenses from the mainstream manufacturers (Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, I am not informed about the Canon offerings) are all supposed to be very good (apparently lens design for these is easy).
I bet you can find some dedicated macro photography websites with detailed info.