Camera Purchase Thoughts

23:35 Tue 27 Feb 2007. Updated: 00:43 28 Feb 2007
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I’m still thinking about stuff I want to buy, specifically cameras.

I haven’t changed my mind about wanting to replace the Canon Powershot G2 with a Digital SLR (the Canon EOS 400D) and a smaller camera, probably the Canon SD700 IS.

One of the reasons I want to get a better camera (or set of cameras) is to encourage myself to take more photos, and further to encourage myself to go out and take more photos, including taking advantage of the Bay Area and my Zipcar-fueled mobility around it. I’d also like to take better shots of the view from Hawk Hill every week (once I resume actually doing that cycle), and find other places to take shots from that I can cycle to as well as drive to. I know that if I’ve got high-quality toys to play with, and to produce good photos with, I’m more likely to go to these places regularly.

If I’m going to get an SLR, then the lenses matter a lot more. I’m currently considering the following (all of these are by Canon):
EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard & Medium Telephoto Lens. This is the “workhorse” lens, good for quick shots, and I suspect also good for learning how to use the camera. It’s not that expensive, either.

EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens. I like to take landscape shots, and this looks like a good lens for that.

EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens. In the past I’ve definitely craved telephoto zoom lenses, although I’m not sure now if I’d really take that many shots with them… but this looks like a rather good one.

EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Standard Zoom Lens. This is regarded very highly as an all-around, versatile lens. I think it’s probably too expensive, and that if I got it I’d have to give up the previous two. Or even three, although I’m currently slanting heavily towards getting the 50mm no matter what.

The only problem with the previous three is that their maximum aperture size isn’t that large, and so low-light shooting might be problematic. But probably not enough to justify the cost jump to larger-aperture cameras.

EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Standard Zoom Lens. Like this one, which would be better for low-light conditions but gives up a chunk of zoom. A lot of the questions here are about versatility weighed against excellence in specific areas, and I don’t really know how to make those choices yet.

These are not cheap lenses. Some of them are no doubt simply outside my price range. But I’m willing to stretch to some of them because I know I’ll just get annoyed if I buy some and find that they’re not as good as I’d like.

One thing I’ll have to look into is how easy the EOS 400D makes it to take shots with varied shutter speed, as I’d like to create High Dynamic Range shots (all the rage these days) without too much difficulty.

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2 Responses to “Camera Purchase Thoughts”

  1. kevintel Says:

    I told you, get the 400D and a 17 to 85mm lens. The 50mm is a good idea too. Worry about the other stuff later. I mean, if you really find yourself pushing the camera after a few months, sell it and get a 30D, or even a 5D. Also remember that more lenses is more lenses to bring with you, and swapping means dust on the sensor and worse.

    Don’t get all the expensive kit before you know you’ll need it. It’s tempting to buy a stack of top-notch f2.8 zoom lenses, but… Make sure you can justify it first. If you set out by thinking you need it, you’ll never feel comfortable until you have them, and they still won’t help you take truly great photos.

  2. Tadhg Says:

    That was silly of me, I had the EF-S 17-85MM f4-5.6 IS USM as one of the lenses at the start of my comparison process, and somehow lost it along the way.

    I agree that the 50mm, 17-85mm, and XTi/400D looks like the way to go right now—it’s a good, versatile approach. Thanks for the reminder.

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