Zoom lens question...

Jul 1st, 2005, 01:34 PM
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OK, here is what I dream of being able to do:

http://www.jonathanangelascott.com (go to Galleries and view Angela's images in particular)
And there are many more for whom I can't find websites...
THESE are the kind of images I wish I had taken!
Kavey is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 01:51 PM
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How much work are you doing with your photos after the fact with Photoshop CS or Photo Elements?

It seems like taking great photos is only the beginning and now that they must be massaged into perfection once downloaded onto a computer.

I know I will be in a rush to share my photo album the moment I return, yet I will also want to make a few corrections on Photoshop. Probably just because I am so far behind those that know Photoshop and other such programs, but I think that any enhancements after the fact is the equivalent of taking an exam while looking at a cheat sheet. But, much like a professional athlete will take steroids to keep pace with his/her peers, I am sure that I will spend hundreds of hours learning Photoshop in the next few months!
Roccco is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 02:11 PM
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Have a great time. I went on a safari back in 2000, and I have a few suggestions and comments.

It sounds like you are getting the right equipment together, but I'd definitely take as long a lens as you can. If you have the 400 OS lens, take it, along with the converter. I found that I still wanted more reach with my 75-300 IS lens - and when I go back I'll be sure to have at least a 400. Try to take as fast a lens as possible, and also take some type of bean-bag or small tripod so you can still shoot when the light is low.

Definitely take the wide angle, there will probably be lots of great landscape shots.

Not that there's anything that you can do about it, but the black camera body and lenses will get really hot in the sun, so just make sure you keep them cool as much as possible, as well as try to keep them out of the dust.

Have a great trip and don't forget to share your pics when you get back.

tjoy is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 02:32 PM
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Because I'm very familiar indeed with Photoshop I'd say I spent about 2-3 minutes on most of those photographs in that Southern Africa 2004 collection with a few of them taking longer, maybe even 10 or more minutes for a couple.

To get the best out of a DSLR you definitely will need to learn post processing skills to a certain extent.

More automated cameras have onboard software that actually applies quite a lot of processing to each shot before saving it - boosting saturation and contrast, sharpening the image and even reducing noise. But even the less expensive DSLRs are aimed more at a market that want more control over the manipulation applied to their images and more control over the final result. That means that images straight out of the camera, when compared to a cheaper camera, can often compare badly. But once they have some basic correction done, the same stuff as those other cameras do automatically but done under the control of the photographer, they perform very well.
Kavey is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2005, 06:17 AM
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While we are on the topic, can someone make some recommendations regarding what camera equipment you would suggest I take on my first trip to Africa? I have a Canon digital rebel I bought last year and just recently got a 75-300 Canon IS USM lens for it. I am hoping that it will work for most of my wildlife photography and for use as "walk around" lens. I don't think I could handle anything bigger.

I have the kit lens (18-55) that came with the Canon DRebel camera and am trying to decide if that is good enough for my wide angle or if I should get something different / better. I have considered the Canon 17-85 IS lens as well as the Tamron 18-200 as an all-round travel lens. I am just not used to having so much equipment and changing lenses for everything.

I am new to this whole digital thing, although I love it so far. I have so much to learn about digital SLR photography.

I also have a Tamron 2x teleconverter that I used with a previous Canon film camera but it seemed like more trouble than it was worth always putting it on and taking it off. Not sure if I should take it or not. I tried it with the Canon IS 75-300 and it definitely slows the lens down but autofocus still worked and I even noticed that the shots with the 2x and having the IS turned on were better than without the IS although I did not expect the IS to work at all with the 2x.

I also have an Olympus C750 which has a 10x optical zoom as a back up (it uses the xD memory cards) and I have a Sony HC90 camcorder (10X zoom Mini DV) that also can take 3mg stills in a pinch. It uses the memory stick duo pro for the stills. So I have 3 types of digital media to deal with since the Canon has Compact Flash.

I have a portable hard drive to download to but considering buying more CF cards so I have them as a backup (I am just afraid that I might lose images on the portable hard drive or they might get corrupted or something). Not sure if buying more memory is a waste of money and not sure how many photos I will actually take either. A hundred a day?

Any suggestions on what equipment take? Any ideas on what to take in the balloon ride? Zoom? Wide Angle? Camcorder?

Besides a couple of weeks in Kenya and Tanzania I am spending a week in Rwanda, largely to spend time with the Mountain Gorillas (which is the focus of my trip to Africa) and not I am not sure what to use for photographic equipment there either since I will likely be up closer to the Gorillas (should I use a faster wide angle there?).

I am also trying to keep my equipment within the 13 pound carry-on weight limit. I figure I will have to carry all this around all the time because I don't know how you can leave any of it anywhere without concern.

Any advice / suggestions appreciated. I leave 2 months from today!
wanderlust123 is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2005, 06:42 AM
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What is tihe video for the 20d that you are watching? I just purchased that camera, and am craving some specific trainging ,other than the manual..
ebarbarajo is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2005, 08:06 AM
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wanderlust123 is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2005, 08:39 AM
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Hi Wanderlust,
Congratulations on the Dig Rebel...rest assured you have an excellent basis for your safari photos.

Now you didn't mention where you were going, what you wanted to photograph or your photography experience. For example, when you currently use your Rebl, do you primarily shoot in "Auto" , Manual, or something like aperture priority? How do you like the photos you are taking at home with your setup?

Your 300mm end of the 75-300mm IS will take you to approx. 480mm by virtue of being on the Rebel. This is fine for everything except birds and similar small animals.

I would really, really resist the temptation to buy new lenses before your safari UNLESS your experience shooting at home makes you crave a new lense for that use too. Are you happy with your current lenses at home?

Another option you have is to take the Rebel and a telephoto lense for animals, and an older point and shoot with a wider angle lense for landscapes and people snaps. I did this with an old filmbased Olympus P&S on one of my trips and was very happy. It was lighter than a wide angle lense, and I didn't have to change lenses under dusty, difficult conditions. These P&S cameras take very good photos, but have significant shutter lag, which makes them unsuitable for wildlife photography...but they work just fine for people and landscapes, who will stand still for a second or two for you!
tashak is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 03:55 AM
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Thanks for the feedback. I have taken a lot of photos over the years but not really skilled in all the settings one can use. I generally do not shoot in Auto mode with the dRebel. I have been practicing shooting neighborhood wildlife with the 75-300 IS lens in Av mode just to see what results I can get. I continue to work on composition, lighting and other things as well, always learning. I am doing a standard safari in Kenya and Tanzania, so would want to shoot whatever makes sense. I would focus on the wildlife. I know my lens would not do for birds, as I tried that in Brazil and they are just too far away. The doubler helps but stops it down so far that it is hardly worth it with the lens I have. I have an assortment of film cameras but just wanted to avoid film altogether for once.

After Kenya and Tanzania, I will spend a week in Rwanda, including several days with Mountain Gorillas. The photography challenge there is different. I will be on foot, in close proximity to the Gorillas so a telephoto lens might be a less desirable choice. Am wondering if I should get a 17-85 lens for that. Light will be low and the contrast on the blackness of the Gorillas will be a challenge.

A third question is the balloon ride. Would wide angle, video or telephoto be the best option for that?

After the wildlife experiences, I am going to Cape Town and then finishing up at Victoria Falls before going home. So my photography needs will vary throughout the trip. There are times (during the first two weeks) that the telephoto would probably be the one most used. Later, it would seem that something more wide angle and less telephoto might be more versatile and useful, which is why I would consider getting a better lens than the kit lens I already have (18-55).

And I have the digital C750 which can be used for standard point and shoot situations, although it is only 38mm-300mm, not really "wide" angle.

Hope this clarifies my situation better. Again, I appreciate any advice and suggestions!
wanderlust123 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 08:52 AM
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It's really hard to answer the question for anyone else on what they should take as that depends so heavily on their own preferences and skills level but... here is what works for me:

20D body
Sigma 18-125mm wide to telephoto zoom
Canon USM 75-300 IS telephoto zoom

As this is our second DSLR, the backup since we've owned it is the Nikon D70 and it's similar two lenses. Back when we only had one DSLR (the Nikon) the backup was my latest film SLR and it's two similar lenses. When I was solely a film user, my backup was the older film SLR and that was great as the two were interchangeable so I could keep a wide angle on one and a zoom on the other. At some point we'll invest in a second Canon digital SLR body and then will be able to keep one lens on each.

But this equipment is usually between 2 people... though I have taken 2 SLR bodies and 4 lenses with me when travelling by myself too.

Don't forget you also need space for portable hard drives to back up your photos, battery charging thingummy, filters, cleaners etc.

Kavey is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 09:23 AM
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Hi Wanderlust,
It sounds like you are doing all the right things to make your trip photography work for you.

Kavey uses the same 75-300 IS lense that you have...and you have seen her wonderful photos. Enough said? (It is good that you noticed the functions work with your Tamron 2X.)

I don't know the Tamron 18-200, but generally speaking, when you ask a lense to cover more range, there is some compromise in optical quality to fit it all in a smaller zoom package. so the Tamron is cover more than a "10" in range (200 is more than 10 times the 18mm) and that's alot to ask of a lense. Even if you get it, you'll end up carrying your 75-300, so you still can't carry just one lense. Why bother? (the only lense I'd consider as a single lense for an africa trip is the Canon 28-300L- IS---and that is well over $2000. So forget about that one...)

OK--so you are stuck carrying two lenses and now you do need a wide angle lense. That's what you'll be using for the gorillas & the balloon, in my opinion. A couple I met on safari did the gorillas, and talked about photographing them. As you noted, you do get close to the gorillas, so you will need wide angle. Also, if you are far from them, the vegetation is so thick that a telephoto lense doesn't really help. Finally, it can be a long and very difficult hike to get to them, in which case you'll want to carry as little as possible. I'd leave the longer lense behind and just carry the wide angle.
On the balloon, I suppose you could try the telephoto, but the point of the balloon is panorama...I wouldn't want to be fooling around changing lenses on the balloon, and I just don't think you'll get really good telephoto shots from the balloon, so why bother? Just use your p&S for those if you want a memory picture.)

Sorry, I'm just not familiar with the one that comes with the Canon kit...I do believe it is a "true" 18 mm , which should be plenty wide.

But the real question: is the Canon wide angle serving your needs now? If you are happy with the results the present lense is giving you, then I think it covers the range you need. If you feel that you NEED another, better wide angle lense, I would invest in better glass and skip the IS function on a wide lense. Personally, I don't think you need IS on a wide angle lense--it's easier to hold, you can generally achieve an aperture/shutter speed combo that works without resorting to IS, even without a tripod. So I'd save the money that you could spend on a wide angle IS lense and just spend it on better optics (either before this trip or later).

I use the Canon 17-40L f 4 and am really really happy with this beautiful lense. No IS...also it leaves a gap in my kit (between 40-70mm) but that's life...

Re how much you will photograph in a day...well, this is a tough one. First of all, I definitely find that shooting in raw gives better results-- but it uses up more storage and requires more processing. It's a tradeoff, so I do it for the wildlife or landscape photos that I think will merit it, and shoot 3m
jpegs for other "snapshots". But I have had days where I shoot 200 photos... or more. Much more. This is partly because there is lots of action...and partly because I don't want to miss the action and figure I can edit later.

So even with a backup harddrive, I carry lots of cf cards. If I told you how many, you would really laugh...

My general advice: Use the equipment you have. Learn to really use all the cameras functions. Learn to keep your camera really steady, and practice stabilizing your camera with a beanbag and remote shutter release (that is a very worthwhile investment...and its pretty cheap). Keep your equipment clean clean clean (another cheap useful thing: a static charged brush for cleaning your lens/filter, as well as a microfiber cloth). Bring extra lens caps (I've lost them...and I've seen other people lose them. Could be a disaster under Africa's dusty, gritty conditions.
tashak is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 09:59 AM
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Wow. Thanks for all the feedback!

The kit lens I refer to is only for digital and must be multiplied by the 1.6 factor so 18-55 is really 29-88. Not true wide angle but compensates for the low end. It is not a great lens but since I am not an expert photographer, I don't know if it is worth investing in more or not.

I would like to look into getting a better wide angle zoom lens to have in general, for use after I return. If I can't find something before I go, I will just make do with the kit lens.

And yes, I have all the other "stuff" to carry as well, traveling alone and so have to consider bulk, weight and so forth. Without another person to share carrying some of these things (portable hard drive, batteries, chargers and so forth), I am working really hard to keep my equipment manageable. I don't leave for almost 2 months, but I have been practicing packing everything, and doing long walks carrying my day pack with all my camera equipment.

The portable hard drive is "only" 30 Gig. I worry about running out of space or worse yet, having it crash or somehow the photos being corrupted. I probably won't shoot in RAW. I am considering buying a LOT more memory to take with me as some sort of backup, at least for the better shots. Some days I will shoot a lot of photos, others not so many. It is hard to gauge. I can shoot a gig and a half in a day with the grandkids.

I am wondering if on the days where there is more landscape / panorama type scenery that I would be better off just using my point and shoot - or doing video. I really need to practice in doing video, having shot very little video prior to this. But I feel that there will be some moments where I will want video and will regret not having it to capture motion and sound. It might be the best bet for the balloon ride.

Thanks again for all the feedback! It has been very helpful!
wanderlust123 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 10:25 AM
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Tashak, the pics I posted were taken on the Nikon D70 - we didn't have the Canon 20D then - but what you say holds true - you don't have to have an expensive lens to get reasonable pictures - the telephoto zoom we have on the Nikon is not one I'd ever recommend, frankly, but I was able to get reasonable pictures with it nonetheless.

I agree fully with you that if someone is happy with the lenses they have at home it's better to ensure familiarity with these than to buy lots of new stuff and then not really know it well on the trip.

That said, I am not a fan of the 20D kit lens, which is why we bought the Sigma wider zoom. It's got such a great range that it just stays on my camera a heck of a lot - for city break holidays it's on there virtually all the time. We're pleased with it's performance too. Nice and easy to use. Just feels nice, you know? And not expensive.

I also agree that you don't really need IS on the wider lens - that's what we felt too which is why we opted for the Sigma rather other options.

Having shot extensively in both fine jpeg and in raw I am a total raw convert... it gives me so much more latitude BUT BUT BUT it requires a MUCH bigger time investment on the processing side as well as a lot of knowledge of post processing tools (I use Photoshop) so it's definitely not for everyone.

The pictures I posted recently were taken in jpeg before I realised the benefits of raw and whilst they are all fine, there are others I'm not sharing with you because I couldn't salvage them but may well have been able to had I shot them in raw.

We took two portable hard drives with us and backed everything up onto both as we too were paranoid about one crashing on us or something.
Kavey is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 01:32 PM
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Thanks for clarifying and adding the additional info. I just think (as you do) that most people would be better served by learning to use their camera properly (good exposures, framing, and holding their camera/lens steady) than by purchasing better equipment. People (not wanderlust, I think his/her approach is more careful) think that better equipment will take great pics for them...and it won't. This whole digital boom is quite funny. The guys at my local camera store tell me that so many customers come in to buy, and they only want the very very best. Professional slrs, L lenses (I'm talking Canon language here, but the same is true for Nikon and the other manufacturers), and "fast" lenses...but they don't even know what an f-stop is...or how to shoot in anything but auto mode. And when they learn about the various program modes...(heeheehee)...well, they think they should be published.

Sounds like that Sigma 18-125 is a good lense too...I'm not surprised that the one included in the kit are lower end, and if wanderlust is looking for something to replace the one that came with the camera, this sounds like an excellent choice. Covers a good range, and well-tested on Kavey's trips. I just think that people should make sure that the problems they see with their photos can't be corrected by better photographic skills and practices (framing, shot selection, exposure, tripod) before buying more.

BTW: here is another reason to support your local camera shop: If you take your camera in, you can try various lenses in the shop, take some test shots, then go home and compare the results. Just try to ensure that the test is consistent (tripod would be best). You can save a few bucks online, but you can't do things like this...and that is actually worth quite a bit.
tashak is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 01:54 PM
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I totally agree...

On a photo hobby site I participate in the same message has to be repeated again and again: unless you are already gettin the most/ best out of your current equipment and are actually finding yourself frustrated by specific areas in which your equipment lacks you won't get as much out of new and better kit. But if you are up and against that barrier, you'll get more out of your new kit because you'll be ready and raring to use those new features and have the understanding to go with them.

As I said on that long, long thread... I strongly feel that L glass just is NOT worth the money for anyone who isn't already getting some pretty good results as the difference just won't show for them as it would for someone who already knows how to get the best from their camera. I don't think I'm at the L glass stage myself yet though I'm steadily improving (I think) and I'm thinking about getting an L glass lens maybe next year, if I can afford it.

Sometimes there's more money than sense involved here!

Wanderlust, I think you are taking the right approach - to evaluate what you already have, exactly where your gaps are and how those gaps are affecting you and then deciding whether it's worth your while to fill them or not and how best to do so within a reasonable budget.

Above all it's about familiarity with the equipment and an understanding of the basics of photography - technical and compositional.

BTW, although the kit lens with the Canon is disappointing, the one that came with the D70 is a FANTASTIC little lens - it's the 18-70 mm and I just love it - fast, quiet and sharp!

Kavey is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 03:35 PM
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You folks are just wonderful! All the time and effort you are putting into responses. Thank you so much. You have given me a lot of food for thought and I really appreciate it.

I will give some serious thought to the Sigma 18-125 lens you mentioned. It sounds like it could be a good lens for me when I don't need to have so much telephoto.

I totally realize that expensive equipment does not make a great photographer. I have a lot to learn but appreciate the advantages of an SLR over a P&S camera and so am trying to learn as much as I can before I go. I have watched someone take photos of the same subject that I am shooting and their photo composition, lighting and so forth are so much better than mine. I have learned a lot -- but still have a so much to learn. I don't expect NG photos on this trip, but will be happy with a few pretty good ones and a bunch more for the memories.

With regard to storage: a friend has the same portable hard drive that I have and I could borrow it for the trip as a supplement to mine, but then there is the weight, bulk, battery charger, etc. to deal with. So I don't know if I should find room for it or just buy more memory and hope that plus my 30G hard drive is enough. Hence the thougths of more memory. How much do you generally take with you?

I keep thinking I can make some decisions on this stuff pretty soon and try to focus on other things, but I am not quite there yet. However, this board has been a wonderful information sharing experience and I thank all of you for your input!
wanderlust123 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 08:00 PM
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30 gig provides space for about 5000 6mp raw photos...not even I have gotten up to that level! I think this is plenty of storage. However Kavey seems to do double backups (wink wink!) Seems like overkill to me...but I might have done it on one of my earlier trips.
tashak is offline  
Jul 5th, 2005, 07:49 AM
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OK everyone - If I just take some memory cards and no back up hard drive or laptop, will I be OK? I really do not want to be bogged down with all this stuff.
cooncat is offline  
Jul 5th, 2005, 08:41 AM
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(1) I've done it (gone to Africa with only memory cards and no hard drive backup).
(2) I'll do it again. Given weight limits, equipment hassles and the relatively cheap price of memory these days, yes, I'll do it again.
(3) Is it wise? No. No. I did lose everything on a 2 gig card when it somehow got corrupted...but I'm not sure when that happened. It might have been corrupted by the time I would have backed it up anyway.
(4)Will I do it again anyway? Yes. I'll take some risk to avoid extra equipment.
(5) I've heard as many stories (in camera shops) about hard drive failures as I have about corrupted cf's. If you are going to be religious about backups, I think you have to go all the way, the way Kavey does, and use two backup devices!
(6) Would I ever take a laptop as a backup device? Emphatically no!! At least no one that I depend on when I'm at home. Too risky...too big to lug around on top of everything else, and I wouldn't want to leave it in my room anywhere, so that's one more thing I have to "protect". I hope everyone who takes their laptop has done a good backup of everything before they leave, too.
If you are travelling through Joburg, you might consider having a camera shop burn backup CDs for you. Just make sure they are not compressing the format at all when they do this. (You might have to talk to the shop manager-- alot of the employees don't have a clue, they are just following a procedure.) This is one of the reasons I like 512 cards-- each will fit on a CD.

Believe me, I'm not recommending using only memory cards with no backup...but it is what I do!
tashak is offline  
Jul 5th, 2005, 08:51 AM
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How much memory do you take along. If I was unable to view my photos on anything larger than my screen on my Canon 20d, I would be hesitant to erase anything. As a result, I honestly think that 1GB per day would not be stretching it too far.

On a 15 night safari, 15GB x $125 for 80x speed CF Cards, I am looking at $1,875. That same price will get me a nice laptop and about 3GB of memory. Yes, I will be hauling around a laptop and some DVD's to burn on the laptop, but at the end of it all I will have a new laptop.

If I thought I could get away with possibly 7.5GB's of memory, I may consider it, but that seems like I will be stretching my memory thin. What do you think?
Roccco is offline  

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