Canon 30D

EF 100mm Macro IS USM

Canon 75-300

70_200_USM_ISCanon 50mm f/1.8


I’ve had my 30D for some time now and it has been a fantastic photographic companion – I know it well enough now that I know my shutter limits on lenses and where it’s strengths and weakness are in exposure calculation. I got an excellent Tamrac backpack and now the camera and lenses come with me on adventures much more often.

The 40D is out there now with a few extras (sensor cleaning, more pixels and a few other improvements – more dynamic range sounds interesting) The 30D is a solid ‘semi-pro’ camera and at about the right price point for someone who wants to take professional looking photos without the financial pain of a full frame model (5D / 1DsMkIII).

This camera has a great feel to it, low noise at higher ISOs, the choice of hundreds of lens including the L-series Canon lenses which are seriously drool worthy with price tags to match. The built in flash doesn’t have amazing throw, but it cycles up 5 times faster than my 717 and I now shoot with an external flash.

17-85mm IS USM f/4-5.6 – which is an excellent ‘walk around’ lens (pictured on camera) in most of the focal ranges that you need for wide angle and portraiture. Its doesn’t soften much at each end like some of the lenses with a wider range. I do find I have this lens on the camera a lot some of which is laziness.

50mm, f/1.8 – this inexpensive lens is really one of my favorites. Being a fixed lens, you really have to get used to knowing what 50mm with a 1.6 multiplier (from the CCD) looks like before you put face to camera – but once you know what to expect you have a really fast lens that picks up heaps of details for less than $200.

75-300mm f/4-5.6 – Zoom lens that my friend bought for me as a gift after I shot their wedding. This lens gives me lots of range and in good light it’s a great sports / nature lens. It does require good light to stop movement, but sometimes 300mm is what you need to get close to something.

70-200 IS USM f/2.8 L Constant Aperture – my latest lens and the most extravagant. If you can put up with the weight of this lens (>1.5kg) then you have yourself a fantastic, fast lens that is razor sharp and provides you with a great background blur. If you’re in the business of needing shots under less than ideal lighting, eg. chapels / receptions which are generally lit like crypts, then this lens can save your bacon. It was really the lens that forced me to get a proper camera bag however – it needs a good home and not many shoulder bags will hold this one. I still get excited when I see journalists harassing people on TV with this lens!

EX580After working as an assistant for a professional wedding photographer, I realised the importance of having access to a professional grade bounce flash that you can really control your exposure with. The EX580 is a fantastic flash, capable of creating far more flattering lighting than the built in flash on a 30D. There was a learning curve to understanding how the flash behaves under different ‘creative’ modes but we are friends now and I’d be lost without it.

Sony_Cybershot_717The 717 doesn’t get much attention these days but it’s my backup camera and really does a great job for an older digital camera. I still pull it out when I want to take amazingly close macro shots. Occasionally I want the punchy colour that is common with 717 shots – but it isn’t as subtle as an SLR. Most of the time I’d prefer to control extra ‘punchyness’ in post-processing. Sony Cybershot 717

Sony, in it’s infinite wisdom, seems to create a new proprietary memory format every month with – memory stick, memory stick pro, pro duo, micro M2, pro HG – need I say more. Its no wonder that with Sony fans getting sick of it all, the new Alpha range is finally using compact flash like everyone else on the planet. I’ve racked up quite a few memory sticks over the years and the 717 is the only place they go.

The 717 has 5 MP, manual and auto settings for shutter, aperture, exposure and ISO + more. Even has laser assisted auto focus (good for impressing children, low light-auto focus using IR), a macro Carl Zeiss lens with a focal point of less than 1cm (no really), Mpeg movie mode and UV lighting ring.

It’s limitations are noticeable at high ISOs / low light where graininess is definitely apparent and manual focus isn’t as effective as with an SLR. Also with fixed lens digital apertures it’s hard to get an isolated subject and nice background blurs.

I have shot weddings with this camera and was happy with the results. There are a few things, like flash recycle time that make using the 717 a different experience from pro gear (there is a hot shoe, but it’s no eTTL II)- but the results are sharp, the lens is impressive and colours are fantastic if not a bit over saturated.

Canon IXUS 850One thing you do notice when you own a Canon_850ISdigital SLR with lenses, external flash, tripod etc. is that you don’t always feel like carrying it all around. When you’re out for the night, riding a bike, getting in a canoe – sometimes you want something smaller that can still manage to take good shots. The Canon IXUS reviewed well and I have found to to be a fantastic pocket camera. While lacking the manual shooting options of its bigger brothers – it takes great pictures and doesn’t attract attention. I’m finding I’m taking heaps more photos when I’m out, now I don’t have to find a place to put my camera when I’m finished taking photos. All the pictures taken in Thailand were with this camera – even the massive one I stitched together and I’m happy with the results.

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