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Buying a new lens setup

Posted: October 23rd, 2016, 7:51 am
by BDSkinner
I'm about to bite the bullet and finally get some nice lenses and accessories to bring my photo game to the next level, before I do that I would love to see what some of you guys think! What I have been using so far is a Canon Rebel XS (1000D I think) with the little Canon 50mm 1.8. For the pice and picture quality it made sense to have over the old kit lens I got from my dad, along with his old Rebel XT (350D) which doesn't work anymore.

Now, I am mainly a salamander guy, but admittedly in the past few years I've moved away from herps to fungi. Mushrooms are much easier subjects to deal with, but have much smaller details to capture and I'm always worried about not getting the 'true' color on camera that my eyes see. So what I'm looking for is a nice lens that can be used for multiple functions yet have its focus on good macro shots.

That brings me to the Canon 100mm 2.8L. Seems to be great all around, nice to have IS with a majority of my shots being hand held, and the weather sealing would help with the wet/ humid herping nights. I forgot to mention, money isn't too big of an obstacle right now, but I don't want to go much over $1000. Most of that being eaten up by a lens. I've also looked hard at Sigmas 105mm 2.8 with OS which would allow for more room to spend on a tripod/ flash. Both lenses have instant rebates until the end of the month, so I'll be buying before then.

As for my little 50mm, I've been looking into the Canon 250 and 500D lenses to help get things a bit bigger. Maybe an extension tube just to have around and definitely a reversal ring to play with. I have a basic aluminum tripod, but it is for portraits/ landscape shots. Something I would actually use would be more like a gorilla pod. Highly adjustable and able to fit in low down, tight and awkward forest floor places. A flash unit is something I haven't started reading about but will be my next step after all this glass talk.

Thanks in advance!


Re: Buying a new lens setup

Posted: October 24th, 2016, 8:27 pm
by chrish
I don't have much to offer since you seem to be on the right track.

I will say that the difference in picture quality between the name brand 100mm (90-105mm range) macros is negligible. Sure, when you zoom into to 500% on your image you may possibly detect a slight difference in edge sharpness or something but for all practical purposes the Canon, Tokina, Sigma and Tamron offerings are all comparable. (In many direct comparisons over the years, the camera model lenses have not come in first place.) So decide what features and focal length you want 90 vs. 100 vs. 105 and other features (IS/OS) and then buy a good lens. Once you own the Sigma/Tokina/Tamron you will never think "gosh, I should have bought the Canon". The canon is an excellent lens, but so are the others. Take the $$$ you save and buy a flash unit.

For a tripod, I prefer carbon fiber tripods to aluminum anymore. Fortunately, you don't need a big one so you don't have to buy the top of the line model. I have a couple of tripods from a Chinese company called Benro (not to be confused with the older company Benbo which also makes good tripods). They used to be dirt cheap but then they became popular and prices went up. You can still get them for pretty good prices on Ebay directly from China.
You want a tripod with relatively short leg segments that you can splay out flat. You also want to be able to remove the center shaft to allow it to lay flat or very close to the ground. For one of my Benros I bought a shorter center column online. You also want short leg segments because if the legs are too long, they can get in the way when trying to do this.
Lastly, with a tripod purchase the head is probably more important than the tripod legs. If you get a good (i.e. big) ball head you will wonder how you ever took photos before you owned it.

Again, more than your budget allows now maybe, but food for future thought.

Re: Buying a new lens setup

Posted: November 1st, 2016, 7:51 pm
by BDSkinner
Thanks for the words Chris. Upon further review of my options, I wound up going with the canon lens. I'll have some more time to save up before next summer to start after a flash rig. As for now, I'm interested to see just how well the IS works in hand. With my 50mm lens I have been able to get some quality shots with relatively low shutter speeds from just bracing myself with the camera. No substitution for a tripod, but that is coming soon. Definitely looking at a nice, short legged carbon fiber model now. With all this new investment, my next steps are editing, printing and mounting these shots, but that is even further away.

Thanks agin for the help, I'm sure I'll be back for more! (and to post my pictures!)