Monday, December 18, 2006

What equipment do I use?

This is a valid question, that might be going through your mind. Ofcourse, I'm a photographer, I can't do nothing without my equipment. Ok, let's start with what I own:
-Canon EOS 350D body
-Canon EF-S 18-55 f3.5-5.6 (kit lens)-I use it only when it's necessary, on events, where you need a wideangle zoom lens
-Canon EF 75-300 USM - I'm not using it anymore, it's a "dust collector". I went to the ZOO in the spring a few times, but I almost exclusively used Canon EF 85 1.8 for taking photos of big cats. Quality of the 85 is just so much better, you can do Min Dof portraits with it and most importantly, you really get in touch with these majestic creatures (1 or 1,5 away is really close;))
-Canon EF 50 1.8 - I use it only when, 85 1.8 is too long. Not that it's not good, I used it all the time for portraits etc, untill I bought the 85 1.8. Which is so much better regarding sharpness wide open (from f2.8 there's not a lot of a difference, they're both very sharp, 85 is a bit better), colours and contrast is much better and AF is better with 85 1.8 (faster, silent, doesn't miss and works excellent in low light conditions). But 50 1.8 is still by far the best value lens out of all, not just Canon's. It cost around 80 euros, for that money I don't think you can even get a lens. And this one is sharper then 99% of the zooms, I don't then there is a zoom that can beat it in sharpness, it can only get equal (at least in the range I use it mostly, that is f2.8-f3.5).
-Canon EF 85 1.8 - Now that's a gem! It's on my camera 90% of the time. I use it whenever it's possible. Sharp, fast and has nice saturated colours (those things are most important to me). Built is very good too, not like an L class, but as good as it gets for a non L lens (and built is not that important to me, since I'm not a reporter). It's size and weight are perfect for handling, filter size is 58 mm (they're cheap). I used it on FF a few times, it performes well, no visible sharpness drop on the borders etc.
-battery grip BG-E3
-Canon EX 430 flash unit

Now let's get to the equipment that I use, but not own. I wanted to dedicate a few posts just to describe the cameras that I use, but I won't bore you with that (i'm gonna keep it short). The second reason for not doing so is, that I want to use the photos with them for other posts (about models, friends etc), I don't want to post the same photo twice. So let's get to the cameras that I used. It's really the complete Canon DSLR lineup from EOS 10D on (over 3,5 years old, so it was on the shelves before I even begain doing what I do). I didn't take many photos with it, just tested a couple of lenses on it. There's really nothing much to say about it, it's pretty old (ofcourse it still can make excellent photos, the photographer is usually more important then equipment anyway). Body design is my favourite, if it has a battery grip on, it's almost perfect, better than Canon's 1 pro series (they're too heavy). And better then it's successors, 20&30D. I used Canon 1D for about ten days, had a session with it and did some testing. Body is the same as all the newer models (1D mkII and 1D mkII N). When you look at the picture, it's obvious that the sensor is way out of date, the dynamic range is not even close to newer models (I compared it with my 350D at that time), noise is also higher. AF speed and built are ofcourse pro grade, but I don't need fast AF since I do portrait photograhy, so that's not a big plus for me. I'd never change it for my 350D (if I'd have to keep it) although it's still worth more. Then I tested it's succesor 1D mkII. The same body and AF, but a new sensor - it makes a whole lot of difference. Not just because the pixel count is doubled (8 mpix), but more importantly (for me) it had much better dynamic range and lower noise. Controls, battery and everything else is the same, I also tested it as 1D. 5D is the next worth mentioning, it was the first affordable (Ok I'm not super about that) Full frame DSLR. The body is sligtly better then 20D's (30D wasn't available at that time), controls are the same. Image quality is excellent (Canon users are used to that) and it still has the lower noise levels of ALL DLSRs on the market. ISO 1600 is just awesome, comparable to ISO 800 on 350D (and 350D is a good performer regarding noise). Ufff, you're probably bored by now if you're still reading (I really intended, to keep it shorter). The next was the top of the line 1 Ds mkII, not much too say excepet that it's a beast. 17 mpix, pro body and AF (same as 1D's). But I'd still go for 5D, which is worse if you look at the specifications, but its lighter, not that bulky, controls are easier to use (on 1 series you always have to hold a button and scroll the wheel, or push 3 instead of 2 on 5D or 10/20/30D). This finger gymnastics really bother me, it means slower, instead of faster control, which pro's need (series 1 is made for pros). Pros will object to that, saying the controls are excellent once you get to used to it (I did and I still don't like 'em), that you can't erase anything by mistake etc. The last from the Canon line is the 300D, which is pretty old, but can still produce great pics. Dynamic range is a bit better on 350/400D, noise is a bit higher on 300D, 6 mpix is still enough if you don't crop (too much, it depends on the size of the print). What really bothers me is the slow processing.

I did make a few shots with Nikon (D70, D2X, D200) and Olympus DSLR Cameras (E-1, E-330, E-500), but not enough to give a constructive opinion. Out of these I'd point out Nikon D70 which is still a nice camera to use (although it already has 2 successors) and D200 with it's big viewfinder, good low light focusing and it felt great in my hand.

But I really think that a good lens effects the quality of the photo, the end result, much more than the body. At least if your're shooting portraits etc, more or less static objects, where's no need for fast AF.

I won't write about which lenses I using in this post, I'll put interesting ones (and those that I have long enought to do a complete test) in new posts. You can already read a review of Sigma 50-150 2.8 EX.

My magazine covers

In this post I'm presenting you my magazine covers. There aren't many since I've began submitting my photos to Ona and Polet magazines at the beginning of last summer. And because other magazines in Slovenia don't buy photographs for magazine covers from freelance photographers (they all employ their own). Anyway, I hope there will be many more in the future.

Click on the image to enlarge