A New Era of Gear

On my equipment page you’ll see that I’m primarily a Nikon shooter and have been for quite a while.  Not long ago, I acquired a Canon EOS T2i and have had a chance to do some shooting with it.  It’s a fine camera and though the controls are different from my Nikons and take some getting used, once mastered are easy and intuitive.  I’ve decided I like Canon and have come to a bit of a crossroads I guess you’d say.

I mention in the equipment post that photography is a gadget intensive pursuit, but that you should try hard not to get caught up in chasing the ‘best’ gear.  That doesn’t mean you should never upgrade your kit though.  I recently shipped my aging D200 and other Nikon gear off to Adorama’s used department for a quote.  Depending on what they come back with will determine my upgrade path.  I can say this: my new stuff is going to be Canon.  I’ve long been interested in the EOS 5D MkII, but price has kept me away.  Now, with the brand new 5D MkIII available and the 6D due in December, prices on remaining stocks of the 5DII are tumbling.  Unless Adorama is able to come in with a truly amazing offer (which they might) I believe my new set up will be a Canon 5D MkII with the 24-105mm F4 L series lens.

“That camera is 4 years old and isn’t much of an upgrade”, some will say.  “Save some more and get the 5DIII”, others will say.  Some will point to reviews of the 5DII and its supposed horrific autofocus issues and ask, “are you kidding?  Pros dropped Canon in droves after that and 1DIII fiascoes!”

Well, it is 4 years old, but my D200 is circa 2005 so, “new to me” as they say.  And old or not, the 5DII is a huge upgrade in image quality over my D200.  Not state of the art of course, but that’s ok.  Could I take the money I get from my sale and save more for the latest and greatest?  Possibly, but my experience with trying to do this is that what really happens is the money I get from the sale will evaporate without me even realizing it and I’ll save nothing.  A man has got to know his limitations.

Apparently, the 5DII does have some issues with its autofocus system.  But reading technical reviews of the system, and reading about photographers using the camera in the field (and I’ve read a lot of both) the problems do not seem to be a big issue generally.  AF tracking in fast action situations seems to be an issue, as does focusing in very low light.  For someone like me whose livelihood isn’t on the line, I don’t think this is a major problem.  As for pros leaving Canon for Nikon, some did.  And they were very vocal about why.  Autofocus was only part of the reason; many were unhappy with Canon’s customer service and felt their concerns weren’t being taken seriously.  Rightly or wrongly, I’m not going to factor that in my decision.

I’m anxiously awaiting a call about the final quote on my Nikon gear.  They’ve already given me a preliminary estimate (that I was quite happy with) which “won’t go down once we see your equipment”, so it can only get better.  I should hear back today or early next week and once things are finalized I’ll post here about it.

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Photographing the small stuff

I’ve never done much ‘official’ macro photography, what with the special lenses, ring flashes, extension tubes, and all that hoo ha.  But, there is no doubt that getting close to something small and making it look big in the camera is a rewarding style of photography.

I have a number of, uh, offbeat hobbies that suck my time.  That’s one reason I have a hard time keeping up with my blog posts.  One hobby that goes hand in hand with the photography though is miniature wargaming.  This is a difficult thing for a lot of people who aren’t into it to get a handle on.  Basically, it involves pushing toy soldiers around on a table top in accordance with a set of rules in an effort to simulate a battle, often a particular historical battle.  Science fiction and fantasy settings are also popular.  Rather than enter into a detailed explanation of the hobby on what is supposed to be a photography blog, I’ll just point you here and you can get more info if you are interested.

Twice a year, in April and October, a friend of mine puts together a science fiction based game he calls “Zombie Crawl”.  It is based in the sci fi world of Necromunda and involves a group of mercenaries/gangsters trying to escape a zombie apocalypse.  His games are very popular and typically we have 20 to 30 players involved.

Below are some shots I took of the game.  The figures are 28mm scale, so about an inch tall.  I didn’t use any specialty equipment, because I don’t have any.  I used my Canon EOS Rebel T2i with the 18-55mm kit lens that came with it.  I’m liking this camera a lot more the more I use it.  I shot all the photos using available light…it wasn’t a place where I could really set up off camera lighting and the on camera pop up flash is worse than nothing.  That means I had to shoot at a very high ISO, 3200, to get reasonable shutter speeds.  If you zoom in on the pictures the noise becomes obvious.

Copyright @ 2012 by Adrian M. Benson
Copyright @ 2012 by Adrian M. Benson
Copyright @ 2012 by Adrian M. Benson

Sunset

I like sunset pictures.  Who doesn’t really?  I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this one.  It was kind of a grab shot; I was packing my gear away in my car and turned around and noticed the sun through the trees and thought it should make a good photo.  It sort of looks like the sky and trees are on fire.  I only had a few minutes to work before the sun disappeared and so shot handheld rather than on a tripod.

Copyright @ 2012 by Adrian M Benson Canon EOS Rebel T2i 18-55mm EF-S IS lens, f8 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 200, post in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop Elements 10

Like I said, I’m not sure if I love this shot or not.  The color seems overwhelming, but that is how it looked pretty much.  Let me know what you think.

Graffiti

Near my house just outside Boston, there is a very nice state park, Blue Hills Reservation. It has miles of hiking trails, many scenic views, lakes for fishing and swimming, picnic areas, and so forth.  It also has graffiti everywhere.  I don’t think the park service even bothers to try cleaning it up anymore and you can hardly blame them I guess.  It might be a worthwhile project for me to hike all the trails and document the ruination of the park.  That would give me something to do for a few years.  This shot is from inside the picnic pavillion near the Chickatawbut Overlook.

Copyright @ 2012 by Adrian M. Benson Canon EOS Rebel T2i, f4 @ 1/30 sec ISO 400 Post processing done in Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 and Adobe Camera Raw.

New Locations

There is a large state park near my house and I decided to walk a different part of it for a change.  This location isn’t too far off of a major roadway, but looks attractive when driving by.  I walked down an access road which promised a good view of a marshy area.  Unfortunately the promise was a lie.  There’s nothing at the end of the road and no access to the marsh.  This was the best shot I was able to make on my short hike.

Copyright @ 2012 by Adrian M. Benson Canon EOS Rebel T2i, 18-55mm EF-S IS lens. f16@1/50 iso 200. Post in ACR and Photoshop Elements 10.

I was hoping to find an awesome new spot but this didn’t quite measure up.  Stilll, you don’t know if you don’t try.  I think it might be a better spot come Summer time so I’ll try again.

A New Year, A New Blog

That makes it sound like I’m someone who might start blogs and then not stick with them.  No, no, that’s not me.

Yes it is.  But part of my New Year’s resolution was to start a blog about something I’m passionate about, and then stick with it.  So, I love photography, so here goes…stick with me for as long as it lasts folks!

Canon EOS T2i, Canon EF-S IS 18-55mm lens, f22 @ 1/30, iso 100, 18mm Sunset over Houghton's Pond at Blue Hills Reservation, Milton, MA