Le blog de Sécham » C'est beau, c'est simple, Sécham.

Play with light 3 : choose your equipment

I would like to use this post to talk a little bit about equipment, especially body, lenses and software’s. As I can just talk about what I know this post wont’be really exhaustive.
I am a canon user. I was given a canon 350d and I stayed faithful to canon, bought a 60d and then a 5d mk II. I am really satisfied with the 350d, the 60d and the 5d and with all my canon lenses but I would not say that canon is the best for you. There are other really great cameras. It really depends on what you need and/or want.

The body : APS-C (Crop camera) or full-frame or if you are really really rich medium-format?
The difference between full-frame, APS-C and medium-format is the size of the sensor, see here. To remain on an easy level: medium-format cameras have a really big sensor (and are really really expensive), full-frame cameras (which is the standard-format in analog) have a big sensor, APS-C or crop cameras have a smaller sensor.
The important thing to know is that the size of your sensor will have an effect on the use of your lens because of the « crop factor ». For instance the 60d has a crop factor of 1.6.
Imagine you’ve got a 50mm lens and you put it on your 60d. It will in fact be equivalent to a 50*1,6=80mm that you would put on a full-frame camera like the 5d. It means that the crop-factor has a zooming effect. Really helpful with long focal lengths (100mm becomes a 160mm) but quite limiting with standard focal lengths or even wide-angle lens.
I remember our engagement shooting. Our photographer was using a 50mm lens and was quite near but you still could see « a lot » on the pictures. I had also a 50mm on a 350d at that time and this how I realize the real difference between crop and full-frame camera.
The other effect of a crop factor is the size on the pixels. The size and the quality of a pixel is really important. Big pixels take more information and would give a better result in high iso.
I shifted to full-frame because I felt a little bit limited by the zooming effect of the crop factor and I really enjoy the fact to get good results with high iso.

Some helpful questions:
– what do you want to shoot and what is you budget? (bearing in mind that the most of your money will go in the lenses !!!)
– Nikon, Canon, but there is also Samsung, Sony (where the sensor is stabilized…)… So have a look.

The lenses : Prime or zoom?
There are two groupes of lenses : prime lenses (a fixed focal length lens) and zoom lenses. With prime lenses you will have a good optical quality but you will have to move a lot (that is also a really good thing). With zoom lenses you will have a bit more freedom but to get a really good optical quality you will have to « pay more ».
I am more the prime lens guy but there are plenty of good zoom lenses. So let have a little look into my bag:

My prime lenses
– Canon 50mm 1.8 mk II: (~100€) cheap plastic lens but a really good one. Min aperture 1.8 to be quite luminous and achieve a good bokeh (subject sharp and rest blurry). I you want to start with a prime lens, get a 50mm 1.8, it’s cheap and you won’t be disappointed.
– Canon 50mm 1.4 USM: (~300€) the big brother of the 50mm 1.8. More luminous, 1.4 min aperture, filter size bigger (58mm). A really affordable lens for great results. One of my fav.
– Canon 85mm 1.8 USM: (~350€) I am not using a lot that focal length, but 85mm is a good focal length especially for portrait. I am sure I should use it more (okay I will make a post with that lens soon).
– Canon 100mm 2.8 Macro USM: (~450€) I bought it to do a little bit of macro and was not using it a lot. But I’m kind of changing my mind. On a small walk it can be really nice to be able to shoot portraits and details. You determine how you want to use a lens. So, be creative !!
– Canon 35mm 1.4 L: (~1300€) I bought it second-hand for 1000€. It’s a lot of money but I just looooove it. People sometime say that 35mm is a little short for portraits. I would say it’s giving something special to portraits. For landscape and city photos it’s also a really great lens. I think you understood that it is my precious.
– Tokina 35mm 2.8 macro: (~380€) I bought that lens when I went to Jordan with my 60d. I loved the fact that you can use it also for macro. On my 5d, the vignetting (dark corners on the pictures) is unfortunately too strong.
– Canon 24mm 1.4L II (~1400) Wide angle with max aperture 1.4

My zoom lenses
– 24-70mm 2.8 L mk I: (~900€) really good zoom lens and helpful when you are outside and do not want to change your gear. Canon released the mk II version and it is really expensive (~2000€).

Another point to take into account when you are buying lenses is the weight. Body + 3L lenses and you’re carrying 4-5kg a whole day. Have also a look at other branches like Sigma (30mm and 50mm are really good) or tamron (the 24-70mm should be really great for the half of the price). Canon users be aware that EF-S lenses are made only for crop cameras (like the really nice 60mm 2.8 USM macro)!

– Adobe lightroom : the equivalent of the dark room. A really great and powerful software. Affordable, not so complicate. One must have ! Use youtube tutorial to improve your skills and get some presets. I love the presets from Vsco
– Adobe photoshop : the most famous photo software. Really powerful but you have to learn a lot and it’s expensive. Photoshop element is the affordable version and is quite complete for amateurs.

I know that it is quite difficult to know what you want to get. So think about your budget, choose a for a manufacturer and get knowledge.
It order to help you in your search just have a look here :
http://www.pixel-peeper.com/ . A useful site which can give you an « idea » of what you can get with that camera and/or that lens. But do not be a fool: a good camera does not make a good photo (YOU are behind the lens and are pushing the button)… but it helps.
http://regex.info/exif.cgi. A digital picture contains more than just the picture itself. You camera and then the software you use let a trace on the picture like an identity card. These data (or metadata) contain a lot of information like the artist, the camera used, the lens used, the method of exposures used, the settings, the software used and also the Lightroom settings etc (of curse if they were also exported)… Just use it on my pics and then you can see everything I am using.

That was it for today’s post. I hope it helped a bit.

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