Sunday, July 13, 2008

Photography Talk Time

Well, it had to happen. The photo talk has trickled over from the comments on this blog entry. Chris and Jon have been talking about lenses. So, if you're not into photography or nerdography, just skip this entry. (Poor you!)

Here are some highlights.

>>Chris Robinson said: I have that Sigma 18-135 lens. I am now thinking that its time to upgrade. You got those new canon lenses and I have noticed the difference in detail.

Thanks! I've noticed an improvement in my images, too. That's happened for a number of reasons, I think. One was getting a new camera. One was getting a new lens. One was gaining skills in Photoshop.

>>Chris Robinson said: My sigma has no image stabilzation and it's not as fast as the better lenses. I was wondering what you think of your photos with the new lenses vs your old lenses and do you think it is worth the money. They not exactly cheap. But we are going to Paris in November and I would hate to come home with OK photos when i could come home with amazing photos.

I think lenses are very important when it comes to image quality, and yes, I do think a good lens is worth the money. I guess everyone has to decide how serious they are about their hobby. For people dabbling with doing photography for money, I think the decision is easier. Mostly because the income can pay for the better equipment. I heard someone say the other day, "If a lens isn't going to pay for itself, you don't need it." Interesting point. For my part, I'm always looking for ways to capture better images. I like toys, gadgets, and while I don't get every lens that comes out (or even all of the lenses I want), I justify getting better lenses because this is something I really enjoy.

I have done photography for some time, but I have to say that my new camera body was really key to my renewed interest in photography (not a new lens).

>>Jonderson said: Chris, all things being equal most quality DSLRs take comparable pics.

I'm not sure I agree with that one, Jon. Each camera I've had seems to have its own quirks, and from my experience, a different camera can be quite a leap in image quality.

>>Jonderson said: There are variations of course, but they are not large. The place you notice the really big difference in image quality is lenses. The best camera body in the world won't take a good picture through a crap lens.

I'm with you on that. It's all about the glass.

>>Jonderson said: I have never liked Sigmas for that reason. It isn't the lack of stabilization or speed, it is simply that they are optically inferior to both the Canon (and in my case, Nikon) lenses.

I've always been a Canon guy. I've never had a lens with a stabilizer, though. If that function is the main reason a lens costs more, than I'd say go for one without it. One of the best things about DSLRs these days is the high ISO (that's "film speed" in old-school lingo). Even at the higher settings, very little noise. So, that, in combination with tons of sensors (that's the megapixel thing), and fast lenses, well, just a few basic rules related to focal length and shutter speed should result in sharp images with the expense of a lens with a stabilizing function.

>>Chris Robinson: I did some checking after I posted the comment above. The big issue with canon is the price. I am not a pro. I do not make a living taking photographs.

I hear ya. Top-of-the-line lenses are expensive. Primes (non-zoom) are supposed to be better quality than zoom lenses. But I like zooms. So, find one that'll do just about everything, and you're set. My 24-70mm, 2.8f lens does just about everything. Wide enough to replace my wide angle. Flexible enough to do framing on the fly. Serious hobbyists just seem to accumulate lenses. I am one of those. But one lens can do the job of many, and for that one, splurge!

>>Chris Robinson: Honestly, my only complaint is having blurry photos when i shoot telephoto in low light. Even a tripod can not stop a light wind from screwing up a zoom shot at dusk. That is why I am interested in optical stablization.

It might actually help there. That f-stop issue is a key one. (That's what people mean when they talk about a "fast" lens. Small f-stop, more light.) My latest Wish List lens is a 1.4f. Very buttery in low light. Also more than a grand. Sigh.

>>Chris Robinson: If I went for the canon, my budget would only allow for the 17-85mm with I.S. There goes my zoom!

That'd be what I'd get. You'll love it.

>>Chris Robinson: It would be silly for me to buy one of the budget canon lenses because they are not really better than my Sigma.

I think they are. It's the glass, man!

>>Chris Robinson: I am pretty set on the Sigma 18-200OS lens. With all the reviews I read and the sample photos, I don't think there is a better catch-all lens for the traveling amateur photographer at that price. And if I get what?

I hope you don't get mugged.

>>Jonderson said: As far as zooming at dusk goes, longer lenses require more light, and if there is simply not enough light you will get noisy images even with IS.

Yep, that sounds right.

Anyhoo, thanks for posting these thoughts on my blog. I'm a bit into photography lately.

I guess it goes without saying that great images are more a function of the photographer than the tools of the photographer. Good tools, though, can give you results that get you excited about doing more photography, and I say that's a good thing. The bottom line is to get the best glass you can afford. And slightly more than you can afford. Because photos are the gift that keep on giving. And your memories are important enough to warrant a splurge.

My two cents!


Chris Robinson said...

So would you say that ANY canon lens, even the ones they sell at Fry's would be as good if not better than a Sigma? I have noticed that the Canon's that are under $500 seem flimsy and poorly built compared to my Sigma.

I agree on the glass issue. Canon and Nikon are going to have better lenses simply because of glas qualtiy. However, if I am going to pay double the price, I expect double the quality.

Chris Robinson said...

I did learn something else this weekend. My only complaint about my photos has been the occational fuzzy shot. I have many many great photos that make me proud. Occationally I snap a shot that is fuzzy. I don't catch it until I see them on my computer. If it were my lens, this would occur every time. I think I have an answer to my problem.


The problem with going from a Nikon f2 to a DLSR is that it is very easy to put the sucker on P or A and just shoot. This, I think, is the source of my fuzzy shots. I am not thinking about light and I am igoring my apeture and shutter. The issue occurs mostly when I zoom in, but let my aperature stay wide open. Duh! One small point of focus and everything else is blurry. Like I said, I'm being lazy and ignoring depth of field.

I am going with the Sigma. I have been combing Flickr and looking at photos taken with the XT using the Sigma 18-200 OS. They look great. Just what I need and a great price. If I ever start making steady money shooting photos, I'll consider buying Canon.

Jonderson said...

As a point of clarification, when I said "all things being equal most quality DSLRs take comparable pics" it should be inferred that by "all things being equal" I meant comparable camera bodies. Comparing an EOS to a Rebel would not qualify as such. And while it is true that each camera will be slightly different, my point was that the difference between images taken with comparable cameras will be far, far less than the difference between images taken with the Canon and Sigma versions of a comparable lens.

Your point about f-stops is also right on. f1.4=WANT!

Chris, I don't have enough experience with different Canon lenses to answer your question. I only used a Canon for a short time, and could not tell you now for sure what two lenses I had with it. If you were to ask the same thing with regard to Nikon lenses though, I'd answer "Yes!" in a heartbeat.

One more thing, you said "...if I am going to pay double the price, I expect double the quality".

Double the quality of what? Certainly not double the quality of the image, I hope. That would be no more reasonable than to expect the same from doubling the price of a TV. More things than image quality go into pricing. Feature content and quality, design quality, workmanship and materials quality, these things also should increase with the price. Newness to the market will also increase price. So doubling the price should really reflect an overall doubling of value taking all these things into consideration.

Where is Kevin in all of this? He should be giving his 2 cents as well. (Probably out taking pictures.)

Jonderson said...

"The issue occurs mostly when I zoom in, but let my aperature stay wide open."

That would do it! :)

Good luck with the Sigma, Chris. And have fun in Frants!

Chris Robinson said...

What I should have said is "double the benefits." By benefits I mean benefiting me. I would say that most of the perks of owning a good Canon (double quality) would be lost on me. Just because something is technically superior doesn't always mean it is appropriate for the person or situation. Especially when you factor in cost and expectation.

This topic interest me because I am fascinated with price/performance. As and example, I make a living in 3D/2D computer graphics/animation. I always need the most powerful computer available. But I have been asked many times over the years to help a friend or family member buy a new computer. They always want a fast, top of the line name brand. Usually, they just want to check email, write letters and play solitaire. They ignore my advice and end up buying some supercomputer and they barely operate it at 2% of its total computing power. Overkill.

Now that I have researched these lenses and seen the examples, I think hobby/amature photographers really don't need to spend much money. If they are getting bad results, they probably need to work on technique and composition.

Scott Roeben said...

I can't tell you how happy I am that this is being discussed here. Thanks, guys. And Chris, I have no doubt that you'll be happy with your new lens! I hope you'll post more pics and we'll share the link to them here.