Hey gang: We had our own Larry Becker stop by some of the exhibitors at the Photoshop World Conference Expo floor last week, so they could give us a quick look at what they were showing off at their booths. Here’s a few to get you started:
OK, this post is getting crazy long – if you want to see more, check out our KelbyOne YouTube page where you’ll find lots more stuff from Photoshop World.
Hope you all have a rockin’ Monday!
â¦that was a question posted on my Facebook page by Are Knudsen, a photographer from Norway.
Why the question? Well, I kicked off a new monthly Q&A column in Shutterbug magazine a few months ago (they named it “Ask a Pro”), but essentially I answer questions posed by Shutterbug’s readers along with questions I get throughout the month on my blog or social media, and the column has been a lot of fun for me (and I’ve been a reader of Shutterbug for many years, so it’s also really a kick to be in their pages).
As I was working on the latest installment, I asked the folks who follow me over on my Facebook page if they had any questions they’d like to consider for the column, and they came through with enough great questions to fill out the rest of the year, including this one from Are (above), but I couldn’t fit it in the Q&A column because I would have only been able to answer that one question, so I thought I’d tackle it here.
OK, back to our story
So, I was working on the latest installment, and I asked the folks who follow me over on my Facebook page if they had any questions they’d like to consider for the column, and they came through with enough great questions to fill out the rest of the year. One in particular that stood out to me was the headline you see above, posted by Are Knudsen from Norway.
I can tell you this – it’s a harder question to answer than it would appear
Especially for someone like me who shoots three different categories (Sports, People and Travel). After lots of thought and careful (read as painful) equipment cutting, I got it down to the 10 things I personally would need, but again these are what I would need â” your needs would certainly vary depending on what you shoot. The fact that I shoot sports really puts a strain on my choices (and my wallet), because I need extra expensive lenses, but that’s what he asked, and that’s what I do, so I kind of have to roll with it.
To make this more helpful to a wider range of photographers….
Let’s do two versions. One for what I’d use today by cutting down my existing gear, and one if I was starting over from scratch and had to buy it all at once, so budget would be a big consideration. With that in mind, here’s the first one (cutting down my existing gear). So, here we go:
Q. If you were only allowed to have 10 pieces of photographic gear, what would they be?
A. Here’s what I’d choose:
1. A Canon 1Dx camera body
If I had to just go with one body, why not go all the way. The 1Dx is larger, and heavier than my other go-to body, the 5D Mark III, but it’s high-ISO performance is insane, and at 12-frames-per-second it would more than cover me on the sports side. So, I’ll be lugging around a bigger, heavier camera, but at least it is the best body I’ve ever used, so I’ll deal with it if I can only have one. (details)
2. A Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens
This is my go-to lens. I use it for portraits almost exclusively (yes, I’d be giving up my 85mm f/1.2, which I do use here and there), and I use it as my 2nd body for sports, and I could, and have used it for travel, but it’s kinda big and draws attention to itself. That being said, it’s an outstanding lens with legendary sharpness. Couple it with the 1Dx and I’m definitely going to be developing some upper arm strength. ;-) (details)
3. The Canon 11-24mm super wide angle zoom
I just started using this (I don’t actually own one yet â” I’m using a short-term loaner from Canon), but even at that it’s my all-time favorite wide angle lens, and what I took most of the shots from my recent trip to Paris (there’s only one fish-eye shot in the entire gallery â” the first shot). It’s sharp as anything, wide as anything, heavy as anything. I’m going to look like Schwarzenegger when I’m done hauling this stuff, but no pain, no gain. (details)
4. Elinchrom Quadra ELB 400 Two Action Heads To Go Kit
If I had to get down to just one lighting kit, this would be the one. It has two heads (with just one battery pack that is super small and lightweight), and I can use it in the studio or on location anywhere. It accepts nearly all of Elinchrom’s soft boxes and beauty dishes, and even their ring light. (details)
5. Elinchrom 53″ Midi Octa Softbox
If I had to pick one main softbox to go with my Elinchrom Quadra ELB kit, it would be this one. It’s so big. So gorgeous. So well-made, and very portable. I super-dig it. (details)
6. Elinchrom 20″ x 51″ Rotalux strip bank softbox
I need a 2nd light. The Ranger Quadra comes with 2 flash heads, and I can’t have that 2nd one being a bare flash, so I’d go with the 1′ x 3′ strip bank. It’s a perfect shape for a 2nd light, and I could still shoot automotive detail shots using it, or product shots, or as my kicker light for portraits. A real workhorse. (details)
7. 3 Legged Thing EVO3 Punks Rick Carbon Fiber Tripod
I started using these 3-legged-thing tripods last year, and I really love them! Great build, very sturdy, and not too heavy, which is good since I’m lugging lots of heavy stuff. Now, I’m kinda “sneaking one past the goalie” by including a Really Right Stuff ball head as if this were just one item, but I can’t use a tripod without a ball head, so they kind of go together. However, if you think that’s cheating, then I’ll just go with one of 3-legged-thing’s Mohawk ball heads that comes with the tripod (but the Really Right Stuff ball heads are, in my opinion, the best on the planet). (details)
8. A Black Rapid Curve strap
I would have probably gone with an “Upstrap” (which I dearly love, since they don’t fall off your shoulder at all), but since I’ll be doing sports as well, I have to go with the Black Rapid because it’s hard to beat when you add sports into the mix. It goes across your body, rather than over your shoulder, so you’re ready to fire in an instant, and it’s great for travel (safety-wise) as well. (details)
9. a Canon 200-400mm f/4 zoom lens
I only need this for shooting sports, but if I want to work, I’m going need something longer than 200mm, and while I love a 400 f/2.8, the 200-4oomm is really flexible, plus it has a 1.4 tele-extender built-in, so I can jump to 580mm with a flick of a switch. (details)
10. A Westcott 30″ 5-in-one reflector/diffuser
Quite honestly, I rarely use the reflector, but the diffuser is a MUST! In fact, I could probably just go with their $20 1-stop diffuser (for natural light shooting), but since they make a version with reflectors and a diffuser, why not go with it, right? (details)
OK, now for the budget version:
The stuff above is a version of what I already own (bought over the years, not all at once). If I had to start over today, and buy it all from scratch, here’s a budget version (but all still good solid stuff!).
Q. If you could only buy 10 pieces of photographic gear today, what would they be?
A. Here’s what I’d choose:
1. A Canon EOS 7D Mark II
Although the 5D Mark III would be my immediate first choice because it’s such a really great body for the money, but the fact that I shoot Sports also would probably sway me to the Canon 7D Mark II, which is the little brother of the 1Dx, but since it’s a crop sensor, it gets me closer to the action without losing megapixels, which is a good thing, and the 10 frames-per-second thing pretty much seals the deal. Although I think of it as a sports camera, it’ll take a great shot of whatever you point it at, so I’ll have to go with it. (details)
2. A Canon 70-200mm f/4
OK, so I lose a stop of light going with this one, instead of the f/2.8 version, but it’s a lot cheaper, and a lot lighter, and it’s still very sharp. I’ve used this lens before and I was very impressed.
3. A Canon 16-35mm f/4 Wide Angle Zoom
While it’s not as sharp or as awesome or as wide as the 11-24mm, and it’s an f/4 (versus 2.8) but it’s still a really solid lens at about half the size and weight and 1/3 the price. (details)
4. A Yongnuo YN-560-II Speedlight
It’s not a high-end speed light for sure, but it’ll do the trick (details), although I would need the Yongnuo YN650-TX Manual Flash Controller as well (details). (Hey, the Elinchrom kit I mentioned earlier comes with triggers).
5. Westcott 50″ x 50″ Mega Apollo Softbox for hot shoe flash
It’s big and beautiful, but honestly you could even go with their 7′ white diffusion shoot-through parabolic umbrella for just $99 and you’d be rocking it. Hard to beat either one of those. (Apollo details & Parabolic details)
6. Westcott Apollo Strip Bank 16″ x 30″
It’s not a whole lot cheaper than the Elinchrom strip bank, but it’s made for Hot Shoe flash, and it’s very portable. (details)
7. Oben AC-1361 3-Section Aluminum Tripod with BA-117 Ball Head
I’ve used Oben tripods from time to time and they’re surprisingly solid for the money, and a great alternative to more expensive tripod and ball head combos. It’s not Carbon Fiber, but it’s not Carbon Fiber priced, either and it only weighs 1/2 pound more than the Carbon Fiber. (details)
8. A Black Rapid Curve strap
I’d still go with this strap because the price is still reasonable and there isn’t a great alternative. (details)
9. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5 to f/5.6
I shot an NFL game with it last year, and I was surprised at what a good job it did (and how nice it was to shoot with just one body, one lens, and no monopod necessary). Plus, it’s under 1/5 the price of the 200-400mm f/4, and less than half the weight. (details)
10. A Westcott 30″ one-stop Diffuser
It’s $19.90. Can’t beat it. (details)
OK, as you can see, we can shave a lot off my “dream list” of stuff.
The stuff I had a cut to reach my 10 item limit (sniff, sniff):
1. A Cable release (I can get away with using my camera’s self timer, but I would have liked to have a real cable release, but I had to make some tough choices).
2. Any filters. (I would have chosen a 10-stop ND filter for long exposures, so I guess I’ll be giving those up. I don’t do as much landscape photography as I used to, so I’ll get by without it, but I sure would have liked to include it.
3. A Hoodman Loupe. (This one I’ll really miss, especially at day games and while traveling, but something had to go.).
4. Gaffer’s tape. (I use this for all sorts of stuff all the time. I’ll have to borrow some from the guy next to me).
5. My 8-15mm Fisheye lens. (This was a hard one to let go, but the 11-24mm is so wide at 11mm, that I felt I could cut it loose, but I’m not happy about it).
6. My 24″ Joe McNally Signature EZ-Box. (I couldn’t go with three soft boxes, but if I had, this would be the other one. Great for quick location shoots).
7. My Wacom tablet. (I going to count this as “post processing” and not a camera accessory, because I have to have one for my retouching and editing, so although it’s not on the list, I’m not cutting it either).
8. All my Tethertools tethering gear. I shoot tethered as often as I can. I guess now I’ll just be sitting it on a table or on the floor. Ugh. Not happy about this one either, but I can work around it.
OK, that’s quite a list (for a Monday anyway). :)
Hope you found that helpful, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow for some news (spoiler: I’m announcing a new book. Whoo hoo!!).
Hi gang â” I just posted a few of my favorite shots from my trip this past week to Paris with the family. After my seminar in London, we took the high-speed Chunnel train from there down to Paris (only about a two-hour and 15 minute trip, and the train was awesome!).
Anyway, the images, and the story, and some tips for travel photography are here:
If you get a sec, I hope you can check them out. Have a great Tuesday, and we'll catch ya tomorrow for Guest Blog Wednesday.
P.S. Hi dave. Boom!
Ever since I first heard this lens was coming (and that seems like forever ago), I have just dying to get my hands on it. For past year or so I had been relying on my 16-35mm, but then I got a Canon 14mm prime lens and fell in love with it, but the thought of having a zoom that goes all the way out to 11mm, yet not being a fisheye, made it (at least on paper) my dream lens (photo above courtesy of B&H Photo)
We took a family vacation just a couple of weeks ago and I got Canon to loan me one for the trip so I could do a field test, and see if it was all it was cracked up to be. Right before I left on the trip, Brad wanted to borrow it for his concert shoot at Red Rocks with Third Day, so he took it out too, and then Fed Ex’d it to me (Brad’s comments are here, too â” along with some sample images from him down toward the bottom).
I can tell you thisâ¦
It is, hands down, my favorite wide angle zoom ever! Don’t get me wrong, the 14mm is a really sweet lens. Really sweet. But it’s not 11mm. And it doesn’t zoom out to 24mm. And the 11-24mm does 14mm. And 16mm. And everything in between. It’s the dream.
What I loved:
It is sharp as a tack, edge to edge; it focuses fast, and the distortion is absolutely minimal, which on an 11mm is pretty crazy. It’s just an unbelievable lens. I’m crushed I have to send the loaner back, but my next call is to B&H to get on the waiting list.
What you need to know:
It’s a pretty large sized lens; it’s pretty heavy, and it’s fairly expensive (but at least it’s totally worth it on all three counts).
Above: The view from above the clouds at the top of Mount Haleakla, Maui, Hawaii. That’s not a pano. That’s a single frame at 11mm.
So, do we really need to go to 11mm?. Yes! Isn’t that “too wide?” Not at all (see that image above). But to help visually display the difference, and why going crazy wide is so awesome, I took three shots from the exact same shooting position, only changing the Zoom amount so you can see what 24mm looks like, then 16mm, and finally 11mm. It’s quite a difference in how much fits in the same sense (I’m sitting in an outrigger on the beach at Mama’s Fishhouse on Father’s Day).
Above: Here’s the scene at 24mm (zoomed all the way out).
Above: Here’s the same scene at 16mm. You see a lot more palms, and more boat as well.
Above: Now here’s 11mm. Mmmmmmmmm, that’s wide, baby. Super wide! Delicious wide. Look at all the extra palms, extra boat, extra beach, etc.. It’s a whole different world.
Above: Here’s a side by side between the 24mm and 11mm shot from the exact same spot and position (click for a much larger view). All of a sudden, 24mm looks more like 50mm.
OK, I’m turning it over to Brad now (but I’ll be back at the end)
Take it away, Braddo!
Canon has had a good variety of wide angle lenses for a while, but as a HUGE fan of super wide angle zoom lenses, I've had an itch that was almost scratched but not quite. Now with the 11-24mm f/4, that itch has been scratched very well.
As a concert photographer who is usually limited to the photo pit without a lot of room to move back and forth, zoom lenses are a life saver. That's why I was thrilled when Canon announced this new ultra wide angle lens, and even more thrilled to try it out during a couple of recent shoots.
Is there distortion on the edges? Well, sure, a little, but it's incredibly minimal! Check out the completely un-cropped images above, with no lens corrections, shot at 12mm. The guys on the edges would normally be stretched quite a bit more, especially in the first one, but this rectilinear lens handles them really well.
I also love just how close this lens allows me to get to performers who come out to the edge of the stage or come out for some crowd interaction. The musician above looks like he's still a decent distance from where I'm shooting from, right? Here's an iPhone shot from the crowd where you can see me in the lower right hand cornerâ¦
I'm probably a bit closer than you were expecting, right? My only complaint about the ultra-wideness of this lens is that it makes it difficult to keep the other photographers out of my shots!
This thing is a bit of a beast though, coming in at 2.6 pounds (for comparison, another one of Canon's wide-angle zoom lenses is 1.35 pounds), so it can add a little weight to your pack and shoulders. But for the results, it's totally worth it to me.
I didn't see any noticeable chromatic aberration in the images, and I have no complaints on edge to edge sharpness even its widest points.
This thing handles lens flare like a champ. Normally in a shot like the one above, with the sun beaming directly into the lens, you'd be lucky to see much of anything. But here you just get a little bit of flare near the headstock of the guitar.
As with any lens with a rounded front element, you'll want to make sure you keep a lens cloth handy for the occasional accidental finger smudge. The built-in lens hood does help prevent that, plus it's never going to fall off and get lost during a shoot.
So, is this lens worth it for music photographers? If you're a fan of the ultra-wide look, then absolutely!
OK, Scott back again
Many thanks to Brad for sharing this thoughts and pics (and thanks for getting me the lens before I had to head back home). ;-)
Let’s wrap up with some specs (from B&H’s site)
Dimensions: Approx. 4.3 x 5.2″ (109.22 x 132.08 mm)
Weight: 2.6 lb (1.18 kg)
Price (B&H Photo): $2,999
Here’s a link with all the details and stuff.
I super-mega dig this lens, and you’ll be seeing a lot of it this coming football season from me (yes, I know it’s perfect for landscape and architectural photography, but apparently it works awesome for concerts and travel, too and I imagine it will be insane for remote football shots and celebrations after the game, and I can’t wait to share that stuff with you in just about 8 or 9 weeks).
That’s it for our field report. Hope you all have a great Tuesday! :)
-Scott (and Brad!)
Earlier this week I was in Las Vegas at the WPPI show (the big Wedding and Portrait Show), and I was honored to be asked to give a talk in Canon’s booth on any topic I’d like (that’s me during one of my talks on Monday â” photo by Brad Moore).
While the name of my talk was “Photo Recipes” a big part of the talk was about lenses, but not the standard lens demo stuff (use this lens for weddings and this lens for sports, and the like), but thinking about lenses in the bigger picture (no pun intended there, but I wish it had been): from the fact that the moment you pick up a lens and put it on your camera, you’ve already made your first composition decision, to why so many people aren’t happy with their lens (and it’s not about sharpness or clarity, weight or price).
Here’s the condensed version
It was a 45-minute presentation so I can’t fit it all in here, but one topic I did touch on (with lots of examples) was why so many folks tell me they think their photos either look like snapshots or are just “nothing special” and I think part of that can be attributed to their lens selection. In particular, I feel (just my opinion here, but I’m not the first one to say this), that there’s a lens range that I consider kind of a “no-man’s land” for lenses because it’s where most of the worst photos are taken â” when you’re first starting out. That range, when you’re a beginner, is where your worst shots are made (stay with me here), and then you get better and leave those behind.
One of my favorite quotes ever
It comes from Bresson and it’s so right on the money:
He’s right, ya know. Now, let’s think about which lenses most photographers these days start out with. Usually, a kit lens, probably an 18-55mm. You can opt for other kit choices, like a 24-105mm or another popular one is the 18-135mm. But most beginner’s photos are going to be taken within that no-man’s land range of anywhere from 18-135mm with lots of shots at 50mm, 70mm and maybe the 100mm range. The reason I don’t really like a 24-70mm on my full-frame camera is that it’s fairly equivalent to an 18-55mm on a crop sensor camera. That range makes an awful lot of average pictures for people just starting out. It’s the beginner’s range of choice.
So, am I saying you can’t take a good picture with an 18-55mm or an 18-135mm?
Absolutely not. I am not saying that at all â” a lot of folks take amazing pictures with an 18-55mm. But a whole lot more, don’t.
So what are you saying?
Most folks that are new to photography are playing the middle ground when it comes to focal lengths. Using the average, standard default focal lengths they have with kit lenses. They live and die in that beginner’s range because they haven’t bought their first “2nd lens” yet, and here’s why this matters:
(1) They can shoot a wide angle shot, but not super wide. Just “average wide.” Like everybody else.
(2) They can shoot a telephoto shot, but not nearly tight enough to really bring you in close to see detail, like the pros do.
I think that’s one big reason they’re unhappy with their shots â” and why I feel they often describe their own shots to me as “average.” They’re comparing their images to the ones they see the top pros make, and their shots just don’t look like that. They’re not that wide. They’re not that close. They’re not that “something” and they probably don’t realize what it is, which makes it all even more frustrating. That average kit focal length definitely makes it harder (not impossible, but certainly harder) to create really compelling images because it’s harder to “stand out from the crowd.” At those focal lengths, you’re producing the same types of shots everybody else with a kit lens does. That’s before we even get to the sharpness issues, which is a post unto itself.
So, what is super wide and why does it matter?
My go-to lens for the past year has been Canon’s 16-35mm lens, and quite honestly, I could just tape the barrel down at 16mm â” I rarely ever shoot it at anything but 16mm, because when I go wide, I don’t want to go “a little wide” â” I want the image to have a chance of looking epic. Of looking big, and sweeping and just flat-out different the instant you see it. I certainly don’t always hit that goal. In fact, I rarely hit that goal, but at least I know it won’t be because of my lens choice â” it will be on me; what I’m shooting and how I composed it. Those alone â” I’m not limited by my lens.
But I want to go wider!
Wider is better, and I just started shooting Canon’s 14mm lens after Brad tried one out shooting a concert and was raving about it’s sharpness, but beyond that it’s just the “look” you get when you get that wide. It brings something different to the table â” something that instantly captures attention. That’s the kind of lens I want to be using (I don’t care that it’s a prime â” I’ll zoom with my feet).
Soon, I’ll be able to go even wider
My dream lens was just announced by Canon, and as soon as it ships, I’m picking one up (that’s a heads up to B&H â” please keep one for me, and can I get free overnight shipping?). It’s an 11-24mm zoom. I haven’t seen one yet. I haven’t shot it, but I know it’s going to bring me the opportunity to take even wider shots, and show a view most folks aren’t already used to seeing day-in, day out. It’s still on me; choosing the subject and composition, to make the shot, but I know at least with a lens that wide I’ll be starting on 2nd base.
For just two shots from each shoot, I want to go even wider. I want to go “fish”
Last year I started using the Canon 8-15mm fisheye zoom, and I absolutely love it (but I don’t use it at anything other than 15mm fish, so I get the full fish effect but without blacking out any of the edges or turning it into a full circle at 8mm). That lens creates really captivating images, but I’ve found that when you show someone a fisheye shot from a shoot, I don’t care if it’s a wedding or a bowl game, they’re like “Wow! That is really cool!” When you show them a second fisheye shot, they’re like “That’s cool” and if you show them a third it’s like “Uh huh.” It’s a special effect lens, and while it has real wow factor for one or two shots, (it tends to get old real fast, like highly processed HDR), so I know going in to the shoot that I’m only going to show one or two shots from it, but those one to two I show will have a huge impact, and knowing I’m going to get two shots that nobody else has, and that they’re going to have a big impact, well, that’s money in the bank where I come from.
Go long or go home
Dave Black said that to me once about shooting the same semi-long lens at a football game everybody else is shooting, but I think his advice extends way beyond just football. I think this is the other side of the coin that beginners are struggling with â” going beyond that 135mm telephoto focal range, and bring something special to the party. 200mm is a great focal length, and there’s so much you can do with it. My Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 is my workhorse lens. I use it for every sport I shoot, I use it for most every portrait, I use it at weddings, I’ve used it for travel, if I was stuck on a desert island and could only choose one lens, it’d be this (or a 28-300mm for full frame, I’m kinda torn). 200mm is a great focal length for sure. Ya know what’s even better? 300mm. Better yet? 400mm. These are ranges beginners rarely capture, and by shooting at 400mm you’re bringing something different, something special, something with impact to the party â” something that separates you from the crowd.
This past year I shot an Eagles/Titans NFL game using nothing but one lens, Canon’s updated 100-400mm f/4.5 to f/5.6 IS II lens. It cost less than my 70-200mm, but I was in tight at 400mm, and churning out shots for the first time at a pro or college game without using a Monopod. It was a revelation, but without that monopod I was (ahem) unprotected in front and took direct contact down south with the business end of a bullet pass and wellâ¦I saw stars for a few minutes there, but it was still an amazing experience, and one that was financially out-of-reach for a lot of folks, but now is in a lot of shooters’ ballpark (no pun, but come on, that would have been a good one), and that puts them in a better chance to make some magic than they would have in kit land. Again, not that it can’t be done â” there are some amazing kit lens shooters out there â” you just have to be really, really good.
Don’t take all this the wrong way
I know when I write an article like this that it’s natural for people who have, and love, and have maybe gotten great results in what I called a “no-man’s land” focal range lens to get defensive when they read this, and write defensive comments. Please don’t take it that way. I had all those same kit lenses, too. One of my favorite shots I’ve ever taken was taken with the kit lens on my first DSLR, the original Canon Rebel, so I know good shots can be taken with inexpensive lenses. This isn’t about the price. It’s about what lens choice means to your composition, your images, and your impact.
What I hope to do with this article, and what I hoped to achieve with my talks for Canon earlier this week out in Vegas, was for photographers, especially new shooters who are frustrated with what they’re getting, to realize that part of their problem might be partially focal length based, and I want folks to know how important lens selection is to the type of image you’re about to make. I think it’s the starting point of every shot â” the first composition decision â” and why we need to really give some thought to which lenses we use and why we use them, because I truly believe it makes that big a difference. When that realization hits you, you can’t look back. This is important stuff, and I hope this helped, at the very least, to get you thinking seriously about your lens choice next time you’re out shooting, or when you’re deciding on which lens to get next.
I’m off to Sacramento!
I’m there on Monday for the final stop of the most fun seminar to teach I’ve ever taught. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I hope to see you back here on Monday.
All my best,
Going really wide and really long (stop snickering)