Advice on Canon Camera Bodies, Lenses and other gear

Random thoughts from various times people have asked my advice.

Tripods and Lenses

I keep trying to find a way to shoot landscapes without a tripod. . .and I've failed time and again. People do it, but I can't seem to get the sharpness I want. Maybe it's because I like to shoot HDR, a three-shot series of photos. Or maybe I'm just uncoordinated. But I'll stand by this advice: get a good tripod, get a sling for it and carry it everywhere you go. If I can, you can. I'm currently using a ballhead and legs by Really Right Stuff, which should be called Really Expensive Stuff. Once you try it, though, you won't be able to go back to cheaper, flimsier stuff like Manfrotto and Gitzo. Just sell a child and do it.

If you're going to shoot landscapes, you need to get a full-frame camera. No way around it. Well, there is but as cheap as the Canon 6D is, there's no point. For landscape photography, don't leave home with the full-frame, a 17-40 or 16-35 L lens, a tripod and remote trigger of some kind. Maybe add some dark filters, ND filters to slow the shutter speed and let the water blur. And I always bring some kind of a longer lens, a 24-105 or a 70-300, for shots I can't get close to. I'm kind of impressed with the Canon 70-300 L lens--it's damned small for such a long lens, and it's light enough to mount on a tripod using the camera body and not a special ring. True, that leaves me with a gap between 35mm and 70mm, but I still find it more useful than the 24-105 I used to bring.

Bags and straps

Here's the shoulder strap I use for my tripod:

OpTech Tripod Strap While I love my BlackRapid sling for some things, I switch back to a normal camera strap when I'm doing landscape stuff. I often keep the strap around my neck while it's attached to the tripod--makes it harder to steal that way.

Camera bags: yeah, backpacks are great for getting your stuff there but not so great for wandering the city. I like my old PhotoRunner little fanny pack, though that does you no good as they don't make that version any more. Some people like shoulder slings, but they always seem to slide off my narrow little shoulders. One bit of advice is make sure you have a decent little pocket in the bag for the spare battery, spare CF card, cleaning cloth and maybe even spraybottle of cleaning liquid. And that cool little lens pen. And a small Giottos Rocket:

Giottos Small Rocket Blaster

I have to admit I never use that crap when I'm out shooting, but the time I got caught in the rain at Hyde park I really wished I'd had it with me. Ended shooting for the night when I had waterspots all over my lens (or actually, UV filter).

I have an old fanny pack by Lowepro; it has no padding and hence takes little space in my suitcase when I'm flying for AA. I later bought the LowePro AW200 and it's great around town or when I'm packing a big suitcase and have room for it.

Lowepro 200AW fanny pack Here's me looking totally tourist in Shanghai, with my fannypack sticking off my butt and my tripod hanging off my shoulder.

Wandering Shanghai