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922 posts

Ultimate Geek
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Topic # 107407 10-Aug-2012 21:07 Send private message

Firstly I have read the other threads on here and many on other forums and the consensus seems to be split. I'm doing a California road trip in a month and will be visiting Death Valley, Yosemite and the Pacific Coast highway. So, since scenery doesn't really get any more epic than that I want to be able to take some great photos! My Lumix DMC FZ8 has been a great little camera but it's time to upgrade and I figured I may as well do it before I head off to Cali.


I've pretty much made my mind up on a camera (600D) but not on lenses yet... Expert Infotech has the 600D plus 18-55/3.5-5.6 IS and 55-250/4.0-5.6 IS kit lenses for $1129 and the body for $819 which seem to be the best deals in NZ right now. So the difference is $500 which is exactly what you'd pay for those 2 lenses separately anyway so no real saving. Wondering what else you might recommend as a good lens for travelling, getting a good variety of shots including some pretty grand landscape but also some close up work too and something which won't break the bank.

Loads of people seem to recommend something like the Canon EF-S 18-135/3.5-5.6 IS might fit the bill? perhaps the Canon EF 28-135/3.5-5.6 IS USM? Or should I just get those 2 lenses and swap em when I need to?

Will also get a good bag that fits at least 2 lenses plus body and gear, some spare generic batteries, a few 32GB SDHC cards and a cleaning kit. Still deciding on whether to take a tripod...

Would like to get the opinions of some geekzoners!

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110 posts

Master Geek


  Reply # 670799 10-Aug-2012 21:23 Send private message

Personally, I would skip the kit lenses. I got a single lens kit when I got my 60D and after the first 2 or 3 sample photos I really noticed a lack of sharpness I used a 24-105L for travelling around Canada. The 24-105 is a little more expensive but well worth the cost in my book. I've bought from the below before and can't recommend them enough. If you fill out their contact form they usually respond within a couple of hours and can be flexible with prices if you combine items.

http://www.smifu.com/canon-ef-24-105mm-f4l-is-usm-lens.html

If you are looking to take landscapes predominantly perhaps a look at a 10-22mm might be an idea. You can generally pick them up cheap enough.

As for the SDHC cards, don't skimp on write speeds. If you take video or do high burst you will regret getting something cheaper. If you are shooting in raw only a 32gb card will take around 1000 pics I think. 

If you are unsure about taking a tripod consider the Gorillapod zoom. I took one to Canada and it proved to be a useful compromise.

I got some LensPens off ebay from a place in the UK. They were only $35 or $40  including shipping but well worth it.

Protection wise don't forget good quality UV filters and possibly one polariser. The beauty of the two lenses above are they have the same diameter so filters can be shared.


Perhaps the most important piece of advice would be to spend a few months learning how to use the DSLR properly before you go, if you don't know how to already. Learning how aperture, ISO, shutterspeed work together will give you better shots than just relying on auto.

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Spark NZ

  Reply # 670808 10-Aug-2012 22:06 Send private message

This is a complex question, but I'm going to give you an easy answer.

Get the kit lens pack and enjoy the trip. Also, BUY A TRIPOD, and NOT the cheapest one around.

Here's the slightly longer answer...

Cheap lenses do several things worse than expensive lenses...

- They aren't as sharp, especially when used at wide apertures
- They may not have the same contrast and colour rendition (less extreme than the sharpness)
- Their Autofocus won't be as fast
- They are probably built less strongly

And here's why you should buy the kit lenses up front.

- For landscapes (which you specifically mention), you won't be shooting with a big aperture - you'll be shooting "stopped down" to F8 or even smaller (f11 perhaps). This essentially negates the sharpness and contrast issue
- Landscapes, you don't really have to care about Autofocus speed, plus at F8 it makes MUCH less of a difference even with AF accuracy.
- Don't drop them :-)

A cheap tripod (or gorillapod) is just a waste of money. I have a cheap tripod and I use it to hold a flash.

Something like this - http://www.trademe.co.nz/electronics-photography/camera-accessories/tripods/auction-501391435.htm - would be a good place to start. Simply don't believe anyone saying "professional tripod" for under $200 (The one I link is borderline in terms of description but I have used one of them and they are reasonable for a small camera)

UV filters are pointless IMO unless you are shooting in hostile conditions (dust, salt spray) but exactly 50% of photographers think they are totally necessary and I'm an idiot for not using them all the time.

A Circular Polariser on the other hand is an absolute essential in my book.

If you aren't shooting sports, don't worry about a fast card, but get a decent brand.

I've owned a large number of Canon DSLRs and lenses, from film bodies and a 300d, through 8 or so others to the 1d4 and 1d3 I shoot with now. For fast sports or low light, great expensive lenses make a big difference. For holiday shooting, you can not only get by on a small kit lens, but you can get great results.

I'm a huge fan of nice lenses, and I admit I only shoot with pro lenses now, but I really think you'd be better off with the convenience and good range of the 2 kit lenses to start with.

If you want to improve your shots, shoot in RAW and learn Lightroom or something :-) (Or even shoot RAW + JPG, and when you get back, send me some of the RAWs and I'll show you what can be done with them.

Cheers - Neil G
www.nzsnaps.com

654 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 670810 10-Aug-2012 22:13

The 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 II Lens which used to be the stock kit lens is a pretty bad lens - the 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 IS is actually a substantial upgrade from that and is noticably sharper (especially wide open in the corners).  The other advantage is that it's very light at 200g.

I use a 17-85 f/4-5.6 IS USM lens as my primary walk-around lens.  It has a wider focal length range, much better build quality and USM-driven autofocus.  If you can afford a 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM, that's even better (but substantially more expensive).

The other lens that's a must-buy is the "nifty 50" - the EF 50mm f/1.8 II.  With the APS-C crop factor, it works out to an 80mm equivalent and is generally less than $200.  It's extremely sharp especially when stopped down, has minimal chromatic aberration, distortion and vignetting.  The only down side is it's very, very cheaply constructed.

I have a 70-300 Sigma lens as well, but I very rarely use it when I'm travelling - I'd get the best 18-55 or 17-85 you can afford and maybe the 50mm prime; then after you've used them for a while you can work out what your favourite focal lengths are and pick up a couple of additional fast prime lenses (or a fast zoom lens if you can afford the price/weight).




654 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 670811 10-Aug-2012 22:17

gkjb: Personally, I would skip the kit lenses. I got a single lens kit when I got my 60D and after the first 2 or 3 sample photos I really noticed a lack of sharpness I used a 24-105L for travelling around Canada. The 24-105 is a little more expensive but well worth the cost in my book. I've bought from the below before and can't recommend them enough. If you fill out their contact form they usually respond within a couple of hours and can be flexible with prices if you combine items.

http://www.smifu.com/canon-ef-24-105mm-f4l-is-usm-lens.html



The EF 24-105mm f/4 USM L is a nice lens, but note that on a reduced-frame APS-C sensor it works out to an equivalent 39-168mm lens - it's not really wide enough and hence not so useful for landscape shots.

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Spark NZ

  Reply # 670812 10-Aug-2012 22:17 Send private message

KevinL: [snipped everything]



Agree with all your technical assessments, but you realise only a very VERY small number of people actually want or have the patience to deal with fast primes right?

I mean, I love shooting with my Tamron 90mm macro, and my 300 2.8, but they aren't for everyone - They aren't even for most enthusiast photographers!

Cheers - N


654 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 670816 10-Aug-2012 22:26

Talkiet:
KevinL: [snipped everything]



Agree with all your technical assessments, but you realise only a very VERY small number of people actually want or have the patience to deal with fast primes right?

I mean, I love shooting with my Tamron 90mm macro, and my 300 2.8, but they aren't for everyone - They aren't even for most enthusiast photographers!

Cheers - N



Oh, I agree completely.  That being said, for a beginner I'd still recommend picking up the 50mm prime (even if it ends up being the only prime in your bag) - it's just such good value.

1964 posts

Uber Geek
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Spark NZ

  Reply # 670817 10-Aug-2012 22:28 Send private message

KevinL:
Talkiet:
KevinL: [snipped everything]



Agree with all your technical assessments, but you realise only a very VERY small number of people actually want or have the patience to deal with fast primes right?

I mean, I love shooting with my Tamron 90mm macro, and my 300 2.8, but they aren't for everyone - They aren't even for most enthusiast photographers!

Cheers - N



Oh, I agree completely.  That being said, for a beginner I'd still recommend picking up the 50mm prime (even if it ends up being the only prime in your bag) - it's just such good value.


Chuckle... It is. I bought one 6-7 years ago. I used it once, in the first week. It's still sitting here in my drybox :-) I liked the results from it - I just never had a situation where it was the best tool for the job.

Someone is meant to be buying it off me... as soon as he turns up with cash I get that precious tiny space in the dry box back :-)

N.

110 posts

Master Geek


  Reply # 670819 10-Aug-2012 22:35 Send private message

KevinL:
gkjb: Personally, I would skip the kit lenses. I got a single lens kit when I got my 60D and after the first 2 or 3 sample photos I really noticed a lack of sharpness I used a 24-105L for travelling around Canada. The 24-105 is a little more expensive but well worth the cost in my book. I've bought from the below before and can't recommend them enough. If you fill out their contact form they usually respond within a couple of hours and can be flexible with prices if you combine items.

http://www.smifu.com/canon-ef-24-105mm-f4l-is-usm-lens.html



The EF 24-105mm f/4 USM L is a nice lens, but note that on a reduced-frame APS-C sensor it works out to an equivalent 39-168mm lens - it's not really wide enough and hence not so useful for landscape shots.



Hence the mention of a 10-22mm. Fully agree, though. Found out the hard way when I didn't have enough room to get the Canadian Parliament in frame.


Love my 50mm too but I don't use it enough. I find it's too narrow to be practical.


Have plan, send $NZD50m
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  Reply # 670825 10-Aug-2012 22:50 Send private message

Talkiet: This is a complex question, but I'm going to give you an easy answer.

Get the kit lens pack and enjoy the trip. Also, BUY A TRIPOD, and NOT the cheapest one around.

<Snip of the big long bit of advice I only half agree with>

Cheers - Neil G
www.nzsnaps.com


OP I agree with lots of what Neil said, I just don't agree with his 'short answer'.

We spent the same sort of money on a Canon kit a few years back, it came with a lens kit and I'm still a bit sad we didn't just splash on really good lenses.

I agree with Neil that great lenses make a difference.  I agree you have to take real care with them.  I totally agree with his comments about how to take photos well to get good results.

You're talking about the trip of a life time. 

My question for you, what is another $2,000 for some real lenses worth to you? 

Will you kick yourself if you get back, get a new lens in a year, discover the quality is just so much better and then regret you didn't just make the investment today?

Remember, you can always put the kit back on Trademe when you get back.

My key take home message from Neil's comments is that getting the image to the CCD is really important.  I agree with him, shoot in RAW and take him up on his very kind offer.  That is what the real experts do, and if you know what you're doing, it does make a difference.

In low light, a tripod that does actually stays still is also important. 

I totally agree with Neil about the filter thing.  You should also get two.  There is nothing worse than damaging the lens and a filter can provide some protection.

Who ever commented about memory cards is also on the mark.  There's nothing worse than waiting for your camera to do its thing because your card is slow!  Been there, done that!

You should consider what you're doing about low light and battery power.  If the camera comes with only one battery, get a second!  You will, and I have, kick yourself when you find the battery has enough life left for half your day!

A remote trigger is also a good investment.  It means you can be in the shot but not have to stuff about with timers.

Finally.  Figure out your back up plan.  Where are you at when I pick up your camera bag and walk off with it.  I know people who've been over seas and come back very sad because the bag with their memory cards got stolen or lost on the last day.  I know people who've had hotel rooms broken into as well, and lost the laptop that they were putting their back ups on.

D
www.thinkdesignprint.co.nz






Promote New Zealand - Get yourself a .kiwi.nz domain name!!!

Check out mine - i.am.a.can.do.kiwi.nz - [email protected]


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  Reply # 670837 10-Aug-2012 23:04 Send private message

answer:

kit lens - poor image quality

optimum pix quality if you want/can afford: canon 15-85mm

what i use: sigma 18-250mm

other options: canon 50mm f/1.4 or sigma 50mm f/1.4

all the L lenses do not give as good pix quality due to the crop sensors in the camera but you're welcome to spend $$$ on it if you want to

all comes to $$$ really

i have researched EF-S lenses for a whole year and the 15-85 is the optimum

1964 posts

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Spark NZ

  Reply # 670840 10-Aug-2012 23:12 Send private message

Good technique and processing will produce a better image than a professional lens 95% of the time.

I regularly shoot sports with a friend of mine. I use a 300 F2.8L IS and he uses a consumer grade 90-300F4-5.6... He's an excellent photographer and until you review the pics at full size, you wouldn't be able to tell who made the shot most of the time - because we both have similar styles, we both shoot RAW and we both love punchy images.

Buying good lenses straight off the bat won't be a waste of money, but I am reading between the lines, and it you chose a 600d (and not a 60d, or 7d, or 5d series) then I figure that you do have a budget.

Even your own proposed alternative 18-135 etc were not L series expensive lenses.

I think you'll get the best bang for buck still from the kit lenses, a decent tripod, and then thinking about the shots.

Cheers - N

Have plan, send $NZD50m
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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 670842 10-Aug-2012 23:19 Send private message

joker97: answer:

kit lens - poor image quality


At 600D level, I wouldn't say that kit lenses are poor, just 'not as good'.  I think it would be a little unfair to suggest that you can't get some decent shots, because you can.  I think that was Neil's point.


I do agree with you about the 15-85mm option.   If you're wanting wide angle, I would even look at 'something' to 55.  My experience is that the dynamics of a wide lens are very different to a telephoto, so stick to each job and do it will.






Promote New Zealand - Get yourself a .kiwi.nz domain name!!!

Check out mine - i.am.a.can.do.kiwi.nz - [email protected]


1964 posts

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Spark NZ

  Reply # 670843 10-Aug-2012 23:19 Send private message

joker97: answer:

kit lens - poor image quality

optimum pix quality if you want/can afford: canon 15-85mm

what i use: sigma 18-250mm

other options: canon 50mm f/1.4 or sigma 50mm f/1.4

all the L lenses do not give as good pix quality due to the crop sensors in the camera but you're welcome to spend $$$ on it if you want to

all comes to $$$ really

i have researched EF-S lenses for a whole year and the 15-85 is the optimum


There's a lot of misleading information here I'm afraid.

The current kit lenses are reasonable, they are much better than the first and second generation kit lenses.

Optimum quality is NOT the 15-85... Without going L lens it's probably the 17-55 F2.8 EFs

Saying the L lenses don't give as good quality because of the crop sensor is I am afraid, total garbage.

I've been through 10-11 Canon camera bodies, and probably 20 different lenses. I don't just buy and sell them, I use them hard. Check out http://nzsnaps.com to get an idea of the stuff I produce. I love gear and I work really hard at making sure I get the best out of my equipment but great equipment is NOT the answer all of the time.

Cheers - N


Have plan, send $NZD50m
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  Reply # 670844 10-Aug-2012 23:27 Send private message

Talkiet:... I figure that you do have a budget.


Yip, I read that too.

That's why I threw in the question, suggestion, of 'budget recovery', rather than just thinking of 'this camera' as a longer term investment.  The trip is what the camera is for, you'd rent a room, think in terms of 'rent the camera'.  Sure, it might cost you a grand in resale value, so you spend $2 grand to get your lenses, you recover $1k selling them when you're done. 

I very much agree with what Neil is suggesting about learning to use your camera.  I beat I can take a better shot on my wifes snap and go than I could take on any of Neil's kit.  That's simply because I know how to use my wifes snap and go, but picking up a really good camera with no knowledge of how to use it won't result in my taking a good shot.






Promote New Zealand - Get yourself a .kiwi.nz domain name!!!

Check out mine - i.am.a.can.do.kiwi.nz - [email protected]


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  Reply # 670915 11-Aug-2012 09:31 Send private message

I'm surprised at the comments about fast prime lenses having limited appeal.

Personally I'm only a casual user and I don't have a lot of money to burn so I've only bought 'must have' lenses, but I've included Nikon's 35mm AF-S DX in my kit bag. It's fast aperture is great for shooting moving subjects in marginal light, being much shorter and lighter than a zoom makes it ideal for travelling light, and in damp conditions it's less prone to moisture ingress than a zoom lens would be. It's also sharper than my consumer grade zooms, but a fraction of the cost of a high end zoom.

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