Gone, but not forgotten

Colorado To Cleveland

Hello one and all.  The last you heard from me was a rather somber day, as my beloved furry friend of 13 years was laid to rest in Arvada Colorado.  There were some precipitous events that led to that day, and even more tumult since, so my apologies for the extended absence.  The short story first:

I’ve moved to Ohio to start a new job.  Only today have I been able to get fully plugged back online outside of work.  The past 5 weeks have been challenging ones mentally, physically, and emotionally.  My dog is gone, I miss my wife, and am living alone in Cleveland Ohio!  But it’s also exciting times as our house in Colorado has sold, Tracy will be arriving this weekend (albeit only for a short time) and we’ll be finalizing decisions on where to buy in this new market that we’ve never lived in before!

Lots of stories as you may well imagine, but I don’t want Canon Blogger to go back to that.  You see, this began as a personal blog and over its life, has morphed into an educational outlet for people to come and learn about photography.  Occasionally I do throw in personal notes from time to time, but lately my personal life has been all-encompassing and the time needed to resume blogging here just hasn’t been there.

I am slowly making my way back to normalcy though, so as time permits, I may put something together.  If you’d like to keep abreast of where I am at though, and what’s going on – I have started a personal diary of sorts. It seems the mechanics of writing are therapeutic for me, and the formalizing of something has helped put a little more of a hop to my step.  So, if you like, check out the “diary” over here:

http://coloradotocleveland.blogspot.com/

It’s nothing fancy – just a free blog from Google that I set up and started transcribing my audio comments from recent history into something that lets me vent (for lack of a better word).  I’ve put together about two weeks worth of reading already, and will get anyone caught up hopefully by this weekend to where things are for me now.

In the meantime, know that CB has not gone vacant.  It still exists!  I promise I will get back to form – it’s not if, only when..  How is this photo-related you ask?  There are some photos there.  I always like at least one image per post, even if it’s clip or stock stuff off the web to help visually express the “experience” of the day.  So, check out the shots (some are iphone, others are legit)

Colorado To Cleveland

Enjoy the downtime, as when I do come back, it will likely be with drive and restored vigor!

The Death of the SLR

The Wreck of the Peter Iredale

I have a confession to make.  I’ve not picked up my SLR camera gear in 104 days!  That’s right – it’s been over three months since I picked it up for any reason, other than to move it out of the way of something else in my “man cave”.  This is not to say that I have not been creative, nor taken any pictures.  Just a single browsing through my G12, my iPhone, or my G12 will reveal that is not the case.

Now granted, I have not really carved out the time to photo sessions like I have in the past primarily because I have been involved a lot with my full time job as a Software Trainer, and in a new business initiative that I am starting here locally, as well as the forthcoming eBooks which (I know) are woefully overdue.

But, when I sat down to think about it, I really have needed my SLR less and less.  Most of the time, I can get just as good a quality image from my G12, iPhone, or even the GoPro lately, and each has the added advantage of video capabilities!  In fact, one thing I had been meaning to do was to capture some video footage of snow falling.  This was to serve as a backdrop for a photo montage of my own favorite snow scenes from my portfolio for the last few years.

This is not to say that I am losing interest in photography – I will always love photography!  The power and story-telling capability of a single still frame is always one that will fascinate me, and I am always seeking to become better at the craft.

But, when I look at the SLR cameras that are out there, both the one I have, and others in the market – I don’t think I really need another SLR.  It just doesn’t make sense to me anymore.  About the only advantage to SLR is that in studio and when on a professional assignment, they do have just that extra nudge of image quality.  But, with that being said, I just don’t see the need for a new SLR.  Here’s my current collection:

Canon 40D – Accepts EFS lenses due to its crop sensor and does an amazing job at even up to 800 ISO levels for still work.

The Wreck of the Peter Iredale
The Wreck of the Peter Iredale

G12 – Records 1280×720 video, and has a higher MP count than my 40D for stills.  Great for on-the-go footage and the SD card makes things super easy to save to my laptop (which has an SD slot, but not a CF slot).

iPhone – Super easy on the go for both quick snaps to share things via social media, and 1920x1080p HD video!  The apps that have been developed to assist in this niche have been incredible!

GoPro Hero2 – Amazing wide angle video quality, which I really am only beginning to explore, but when I see the weekly publications from their site, am continually inspired for new project ideas!

Hardware Review: The 70-200L f4.0

In keeping with the last few weeks of hardware reviews, I am taking a look in my own bag one more time to bring you this weeks’ hardware review: the 70-200mm L lens from Canon.  Canon has several variants on this lens, with different minimal apertures both with and without Image Stabilization (IS).  So, in the interests of full disclosure, this is a non-IS lens, and the aperture range is the standard one, 4.0 to 5.6.  So, with that distinction being made, we’re off and running:

Canons 70-200mm f4.0 lens
Canon's 70-200mm f4.0 lens

The “L” distinction is one that bears discussion right off – Canon only gives this out to lenses that it deems have superior optics – which means a wider range for it’s sweet spot, tack sharp focus, and better sealing against the elements.  This naturally means that this lens will, by definition and categorization, be sharper than a comparable “non-L” lens.  However, for this particular range of zoom, Canon doesn’t make a non-L lens, so one would have to make a comparison with a 3rd party brand such as Sigma or Tamron.  Even there though, comparisons are tricky primarily because vendors are moving toward faster glass (in the 2.8 category) and IS features.

In that regard, the 70-200 f4.0 really is in a class by itself.  As a result of its unique status in the field of available lenses, comparisons are rather arbitrary as no other lens out there has the same specs.  Rather than making those comparisons though, I’ll just say that this lens does deliver superior performance for its’ category.

So, how is this a review?  Well, it’s not just a question of performance, it’s also a question of price.  Anything can be stellar, but whether it’s worth the price is another story.  I know of luxury cars that exceed 6 figures for their cost, however, most cannot justify the expense, either because of their financial situation or the expected need.  So, how does the 70-200 fit when it comes to cost?  Pretty well actually.

The cost for this lens at B&H Photo is $600 right now (technically $599.95) after a $50 rebate.  Considering the next step up is twice the price for either an f2.8 or an IS lens, this is actually a steal!  I was able to find mine second hand from a fellow photographer when I lived in SC, so got it for considerably less.  Included in my package was a lens hood, and a collar for mounting to a tripod (which I definitely would recommend given the weight).  The previous owner was also nice enough to leave the Tiffen filter on it that provided protection for the lens.  All told, the lens and accessories would run around $700 for the lens, lens hood, UV filter, and tripod collar.

When looking at comparable other lenses from Canon, this is where you really see the bang for the buck.  Take a look at the most recent prices from B&H for similar lenses:

  • 70-200L f2.8  = $1250
  • 70-200L f2.8 IS = $1600
  • 70-200L f4.0 IS = $1025

So, you can save at least $425 if IS isn’t important to you, or $650 for the next fastest version of this lens

At a smidge over 1.5 lbs, the weight does balance the mid-grade SLR’s quite nicely, although on the Rebel line I recall it being a tad heavy.  As a general rule of thumb, with larger and heavier lenses, you’ll want to carry this by the lens itself rather than the camera as you don’t want to put undue tension on the mount.

Overall though, for the price and range, I would highly recommend this lens.  It’s tack sharp at both 70 and at 200 with a sweet spot ranging from f5.6 to f16.  Kind of hard to say no to that kind of quality when it’s offered at such an affordable price.  Here’s some sample shots to show what I’m talking about:

Here’s a sample from 70mm at f9.0

The Rocky Mountainsfrom a distance
The Rocky Mountainsfrom a distance

And the same scene from 200mm at the same aperture:

The Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains

Then, just to give you an idea of the sharpness, here’s some shots at f4.0 (a little noiser because I was at ISO 3200)…first the 70mm shot:

What time is it?
What time is it?

And now at 200mm:

What time is it?
What time is it?

And the 200mm shot:

Okay, so that’s about it for the day.  Hope you found it useful and informative (as always).  Don’t forget the Lightroom Contest going on over at the Flickr Thread – only about 12 more days left and still not a lot of entries.  Great chance to win a free copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (retails for $300)!  If you have ideas, suggestions, comments, feedback or other insights on future gear you’d like reviewed, feel free to share those in the comments below or with me via email.

One last little nugget to share today…Scott Kelby announced his 2nd Annual Photowalk early this morning, so be sure to register in your city.  I’m already registered in the Denver group and that’s rolling early (7:45ish am) in the Lodo area.  More details to come on route, eating place, etc. , but mark your calendars now for July 18th!  Here’s the link for more info if you’re not in Denver:  Worldwide Photowalk Have a great day, Happy Shooting, and we’ll see you back here again tomorrow!