Ever, since I came across the website of Neil Turner and in particular this page, I wanted to do something similar. Nothing fancy really, but I liked the idea of presenting each piece of equipment with a detail aspect. On the weekend of March 17th, 2007 I finally took the time to take the shots.
All these picture were taken with a Canon G3 Powershot operating completely in manual mode. A Nikon SB25 flash was linked to the camera with a hotshoe-PC connector and positioned to the left of the camera. In between the flash and the object was a semi translucent white and very thin paper. The objects were placed in a diy macro studio.
Well, I’m a Canon guy, what more can I say. Not that Nikon camera models are technically inferior in any way, but I guess my Canon preference dates 25 years back, when I purchased my first Canon, a AE1. Until the digital era, photography wasn’t such a hot topic. I took plenty of candid shots from the kids and around the house, but nothing really serious. It wasn’t ’til I upgraded from the G3 to the 350D, that I invested more time into the topic, reading books about it and surfing the Web to learn more, in particular about composition. What sets the 350D apart from the G3? Speed. With the G3 I always had trouble to capture kids in motion. Even the current point and shots can’t match the focusing speed of a DSLR. Noise. No noise until ISO400 and still very usable with ISO800 and 1600. With the G3 the quality deteriorates very quickly starting with ISO200. The biggest advantage for me personally it the view through the view finder of the DSLR. It makes it much more easy for me to really concentrate on the subject and find a better picture composition. With these LCDs on the back of the camera there is still so much going on in my field of view, that I lose focus on the subject.
Canon 50mm f1.8 II
I bought this lens at the same time, when I bought the DSLR. The reviews were raving about this lens providing a very good optical performance at a very affordable price. The lens cost me about 90 Euros. The build quality is not so hot, being build completely from plastic, but what can you expect for such a price. The 1.6 crop factor makes this a very good portray lens with an effective focal length of 80mm. And it gives you quite a bit of headroom in low light situations.
Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro
I had the opportunity to buy this very, very nice lens from a colleague at work. While this is first of all a macro lens it work just as well as a portrait lens allowing for more distance between you and the subject. Although this is not a L-lens (Canons line of lenses for professionals) the optical quality is definitely on par with L-lenses.
Tamron 17-50mm f2.8
This lens replaced the EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens, which came with the camera. According to the reviews, which I’ve read this lens is nearly in the same area in terms of optical quality as the Canon 18-55mm f2.8 IS at about half the price, of course without image stabilisation. I did my own not very scientific comparison. The better optical quality compared to the kit lens is clearly visible. As an added bonus the Tamron lens comes with an lens hood. I’m pretty happy about this lens and it feels quite a bit more solid than the kit lens.
Canon 28-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS
I bought this lens at the same time as the camera. The zoom range is pretty versatile, which is 45 to 216mm in terms of full frame SLRs and makes it a good walk around lens. And the image stabilisation was the thing, that intrigued me most in selecting this lens. However in retrospective I find, that I use this lens not quite as often as the other lenses. It may very well be, that this due to the fact, that I’m taking more pictures in doors and that the other lenses provide smaller f-stops for this.
Canon Speedlite 420EX
Not long after my purchase of the Canon Powershot G3 I bought the 420EX. Using the in camera flash of the point’n shots is simply messy (you know, red eye problem). I use the flash pretty frequently mostly with a bounce card, which is strapped to the flash with a some velcro tape. The Strobist has helped a lot to get a better handle on flash lighting. There is still much to learn and practice however.
Canon Off Camera Cord 2
This is mainly a place holder for the other diy projects to improve my equipment. The original Off Camera Cord allows for roughly ½m off camera flash operation. I cut the cord into two pieces and put male and female connectors on both ends. In between is now a cable of 3m length also equipped with connectors. There is now much more leeway to operate the 420EX off camera. I’ve read about similar projects on the Web, which were advocating CAT5E cable. This is the cable used for 1GBit Ethernet connections. I think, this way over the top. I’ve used pretty simple shielded cable and haven’t yet seen a problem. I’ve als build a number of simple 2 wire cables for the operation of the Nikon flashes. And last but not least I build a Macro Studio from 15mm copper pipes used for central heating system.
Nikon Speedlights SB-24 and SB-25
The flash for the serious Strobist. These flashes were build by Nikon around 1995/1996. They are so very useful, because they can be manually adjusted from full power to 1/16 for the SB-24 and from full power to 1/64 for the SB-25. They can be bought relatively cheaply from Ebay. However, the market in the US has pretty much dried up since David Hobby aka. Strobist is pimping these flashes. Not so here in Germany. I got my three Nikon flashes for prices ranging from 45 Euro to 55 Euro. I hadn’t intended to have three of these, but I originally thought, that my first SB-24 was a bad apple. Luckily later this turned out to not be true, but I already had another SB-24 and a SB-25 in my possession. I’m mainly operating them via a self build optical trigger, which is capable to ignore the E-TTL pre flashes or alternatively via a hotshoe-PC adapter. I also build number of cables in the 5m range.
This flash must be at least 15 years old. I bought it second hand around the time, when my son was born and he is now 15 years old. This flash doesn’t allow a manual setup. You have to fiddle with the film sensitivity and the aperture setting of the flash to regulate the light output. Therefore it is more useful in connection with umbrellas so that the sensor of the flash has a more or less constant area against which to measure.
Missing Pieces ?
So, is there still anything missing? Yes, there are still some things to buy in the time to come.
- A decent tripod. Possibly a Manfrotto 190XPROB and a ball head.
- A 70-200mm zoom. Possibly the Canon 70-200mm f4.0, which is the cheapest of all Canon L-lenses for about 600 Euro. However Tamron now has announced a 70-200mm f2.8 lens. If the optical quality is as good as the 17-50mm, this could be a very interesting lens.
- Update to the 400D. While the additional pixels are nice, the most interesting items would be the sensor cleaning mechanism and the very much larger LCD display on the back. Or even update to a 40D (should this camera ever appear)?
- Additional lighting stands.
I’ll see, what time will bring.