What's in My Bag: Cameras and Lenses

August 15, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I have long been a technically minded person that needed a creative outlet of some sort. When I was younger, it was drawing cars, but I didn't quite ever get out of 2-D drawings and onto the 3-D part that would let me really design cars. I had my go at music, and painting (a really little bit of painting), and even model building. Nothing ever quite took until I found photography - an art form with so much technical stuff built in that I was in heaven. I taught myself f/stops, shutter speeds, lighting ratios, and so much else. I also taught myself how to read MTF charts for lenses, and worry if diffraction would ruin my shot (probably not, as it turns out). I had big trouble not seeing the forest (the photo) for the trees (the stupid worries of diffraction and the like). Because of all of that, I tried to stay away from talking about my gear, for fear that I would be too long-winded and boring. 

However, now that I want to start talking a bit more about my photos and what goes into them, I think having a post or two people can look back on to see why I made the decisions I did could be helpful. I promise to rewrite this as many times as it takes to keep it relatively short and to the point, so you won't be too bored if you decide to read it all! 

Cameras

I carry two D-SLR cameras in my bag, a Canon EOS 40D and an EOS 7D. I started with Canon because that's what the people around A stock photo of a Canon EOS 7D camera me were using when it came time to make the decision; sometimes the tide just takes you the way it wants to go! Not to mention, at the time, the 40D was competing with Nikon's D80 and D200, which made my decision a bit easier! (The D300 had been announced about the same time I chose the Canon, but nothing was really known about it, and it was just a bit out of my price range.)

As time went on, I started covering more diverse stuff, and needed something a bit faster acting. Not to mention that, the Summer I picked up the 7D, I had three weddings to shoot; any photographer worth their pennies will tell you that backups are a necessity with any paid assignment, but doubly so with weddings. So I had a great reason to get a new camera to take on my honeymoon that summer, too! 

I am just starting to have some reasons to upgrade again (to full frame, with the EOS 5D mkIII), but that is on hold until I either win the lottery, or until I get enough paid work to justify the business cost. For now, though, these two cameras take very good care of any assignments I can throw at them. 

I have a battery grip for each camera, as well. Some people ask me why, since the grips add so much bulk to the camera. My reasoning, beyond that the battery life is doubled, is just a comfort thing. I like to have my hands in the same position whether I'm taking a horizontal or vertical shot. Sometimes the weight bothers me, but that's only after a long day of shooting; otherwise, I hardly notice!

Lenses

This is the long part, but only because I have collected so many lenses! I'm going to start wide, and end on telephoto:

Canon EF-S 10-22mm: This lens quickly became my favorite lens as soon as I ordered it. This is the type of lens that lets you get in close to your subject, but still show off their surroundings. A lot of my work has made me leave this in my bag a bit more often lately, but I still love getting it out to take some landscape shots, where I can play with the wild perspective given by that ultra wide focal length! 

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS: As of this writing, this lens is not long for my bag. For the past few years, workhorse is the only word I have to describe it. Just like a 24-70mm for a full frame camera, this covers the just-about-perfect focal lengths for a lot of the magazine A stock photo of the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens and product photos I've been taking more and more of. Add in the f/2.8 and image stabilizer, and this lens does everything I need it to. 

Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 VC: A new arrival to my bag, I picked this one up so I could - eventually - easily move to full frame when I'm ready. When I picked up my 7D, I wanted to make that move to full frame, but couldn't justify the extra cost of a lens like this. I'll write up a bit of a review once I get a chance to use the lens a bit more extensively.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II: A lens like this is just about everyone's first prime lens, and I was no exception. This lens helped me out a bunch early on when I was shooting bands in caves local bars. Call me lazy if you will, but for most of my shooting, I prefer zoom lenses, so this lens doesn't get used a whole lot. Even so, for a long time I couldn't stand the thought of selling a lens that has performed so well for me. Then I made an offer I couldn't refuse, and got:

 

 

A stock photo of the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM "Pancake" lens Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 "Pancake": A few weeks ago I had a customer trade in this lens on his purchase. Me being me, I looked at my 50mm and decided I could live without it if I could make an even trade. A little conversation with our used department later, I was indeed able to make an even trade. I haven't been able to use it much, but the little bit I have has been great. I lost a little bit of low light capability, but got something light, sharp, and fun (it's a conversation starter, for sure). I'm looking forward to using this lens on an EOS-M variant that can actually focus...

Tamron SP 70-200 f/2.8 Di: When I was originally looking at this focal length, I almost got a completely different lens, but the sale fell through, and I "settled" on this one. In retrospect, this is the best luck I've had with equipment. This is possibly the sharpest lens I have, and it has let me shoot Crew soccer, weddings, and national touring concerts that the other lens I was about to get would have made much harder on me because of the different focal lengths. Biggest downside: no sabilization system. It will be a very sad day when this lens "has" to be upgraded.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM: I got this lens in a moment of impulse, but is another example of a lens that is too good for the money to give up. This is a pretty long lens for my taste, so it's relegated to some product photography and a portrait or two. I'm kind of almost holding on to it so it can get a second life when I make the move to full frame. 

_______________________

I've got a couple of toy lenses I'll mention in another post, but this is pretty much my bread and butter list of "daily" stuff. Next up in the gear posts: lighting! 


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