Charles Pillsbury III

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Gadget Envy… (photography edition)

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Of course my gadget envy isn’t all tied to the computing world. I’m also a photography fiend, and a movie fan as well. So maybe this will be a series of posts.

While I’m pretty happy with our EOS Rebel XT, I would certainly like to upgrade our miniDV camera. This HD camera from Panasonic in the $6K range would be nice one, but probably not realistic. What I think might be the most reasonable upgrade for us is something that’s solid state, under a grand, and shoots short things easily. Of course I’m also tempted by the “flip” revolution (of course I’d have to fight Jake to keep him away from the thing if we got one).

The main photography “wants” are tied up in other lenses. I’m very happy with our 1.8 50mm we got over the holidays, so I’m mostly looking at more zoom. The camera came with a decent 18-55mm lens, and with the 50mm fixed we’ve got most of the wider-angle uses covered. What we “need” is a big zoom. I’ve got an old 75.300mm zoom from my EOS A2E, but I’ve discovered that either the auto-focus doesn’t work with my DSLR, or it just doesn’t work at all. I took it to a Braves game and discovered that I’ve not entirely lost my eye, it’s tough to manually focus at that level of zoom.

I’ve looked at a few options, and I think I’ve narrowed down our “next lens” to one of four. The DSLR has the 1.6 multiplier (the sensor is smaller than a 35mm negative would be, so a 200mm zoom translates to a 300mm level of zoom on my camera), so I’m considering both 55-200mm zoom and 75-300mm zoom. The 200mm is as effective as the 300mm would be on film, but then a 300mm lens would give me 500mm function which could be very cool.

Lens Option #1 Tamron 75-300 $129: Cheapest of the options, and probably least likely. I’ve never had a Tamron lens before, but this gets good reviews, and meets my needs. I’d probably rather spend an extra $30 and get the canon Lens, but I’m not sure.

Lens Option #2 Sigma 55-200mm $139: This is actually FOR a DSLR, so it doesn’t get the multiplier I believe, but even at 200mm we’d have a nice zoom. My favorite lenses for my old 35mm cameras were Sigma ones. On one hand it won’t give us the deep zoom I’d like, but it’s such a good range of “standard” and zoom that it could be the “leave it on the camera” lens for trips to the zoo and soccer and such.

Lens Option #3 Canon 75-300mm $159: This is basically the new edition of my 75-300mm that isn’t working. It’s a serviceable lens, but it weighs a full pound and is sort of a “truck” kind of lens. The multiplier is in effect here and I enjoy how far in my old lens can zoom.

Lens Option #4 Canon 55-200mm USM Refurb $175: I’ve dreamed of owning a USM lens since 1992, which I’m trying to not let cloud my judgement. I don’t have a problem with Refurb generally (except laptops), and in this case I don’t think a refurb lens is a problem. The USM makes for a nicer/quicker/quieter auto-focus, and as it’s for a film camera the multiplier is in effect so it’s close to a 80-300mm equivalent. The lens is also more compact, and 2/3 the weight. It wouldn’t be as practical to stick on and leave (like the Sigma one would be), and it’s more expensive, but the weight and extra zoom would be nice.

I think right now I’m leaning towards either of the 55-200mm lenses, and trying to weigh saving $35 vs the plus/minus otherwise. This is going to be a lens I’ll keep for a long time, so the expense difference isn’t so much that it weighs very heavily on the decision.

Any other photographers out there with suggestions? Anybody have questions?

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April 27th, 2008 at 8:24 pm

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