Category Archives: Discussion

70-200mm, why I have one

When I first bought my digital SLR (Canon 400D), I asked the guys I worked with at camera house which lenses I should get with it.  Both of them mentioned the Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS, at that time all I saw was:
– 70-200mm –> $2k
– 55-250mm –> $450
Like everyone else in my situation at the time, I seriously questioned why anybody would pay so much more for a less versatile lens.  Keep in mind the max apertures meant nothing to me back then. 

Over time, however, I realised just how valuable the 70-200mm f2.8L IS came to be after various shoots/events.  Here are a few reasons why you would buy one:
– It looks cool, it’s grey, has a red ring, and a massive hood Winking smile
– It’s sharp, sharper than your favourite steak knife
– Quiet and accurate focusing, unlike those older Tamron lenses that sounds like R2D2 with a spastic colon
– Finally … f2.8 f2.8 f2.8 f2.8 f2.8 f2.8 f2.8 f2.8!

Need I continue?

On the other hand, here are a few of the reasons that put people off from buying this lens:
– Size, weighs in at approx 1.6kg which puts it in the light heavyweight division of lenses
– $$$ the MkII version will range from $2300-$3300 in price (AUD)
– In case I forgot … SIZE

Here’s the thing about this lens, it won’t be one that you use all the time.  In fact, it might spend 80% of the time in a dry cabinet in your home.  Right now you may be thinking “why would I drop $2500 on a lens that I won’t use 80% of the time?”  You have a point, to an extent.  I brought this lens with me on an overseas trip and I NEVER used it.  BUT, here’s one of the many reasons to use this lens.  In these situations, there is no substitute to having a 70-200 f2.8L.

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Reason #1 to have this lens: Indoor sports photography!  Sharp, fast focusing, and the f2.8 gives you fast enough shutter speeds for indoor sports Smile.  If you’ve ever tried to get these photos in a basketball stadium with a non f2.8 lens, you’ll know what I mean. 

Stay tuned for reason #2

Life on the Edge

Think your job is dangerous?

Think again

Close call with Rally Crash

 

Or perhaps this incredible experience with a leopard seal?

 

But it doesn’t always end well, this tribute to the amazing photographer/cinematographer Wesley C Skiles who died in a diving accident says it all. 

As far as I’m concerned, it’s the only way to live and he will continue to be an inspiration to photographers and videographers all around the world. 

Is it the shoes? Is it the camera?

If you’re not talented, your work will still appear uninspired. 

I have a lot of camera gear (relatively), but all that doesn’t matter if I don’t know how to make use of it properly.  Think about it, camera have come a long way since the early days of photography.  There was the development of Single Lens Reflex, improved darkroom techniques, digital sensors etc.  How is it that we still don’t have a photographer as highly regarded as Ansel Adams.  There are photographers who hike out to the exact GPS co-ordinates of Ansel Adams’ photos in an attempt to replicate the image.  They now have much improved gear, likely professional SLR’s and medium format cameras (Hasselblad).  Theoretically, these “adaptations” should be better.  In reality, they lack the type of emotion and impact that the original photographs held. 

Why?

Buying Air Jordans won’t make you play like Mike, an expensive piano doesn’t make you a great pianist, a Waterman fountain pen won’t turn you into Robert Frost.  In the same way, an expensive camera and an impressive array of lenses will not automatically turn you into a great photographer. 

In contrast, give a great artist a familiar instrument of any grade and they will be able to create something beautiful.  Give Nathaniel Anthony Ayers (schizophrenic homeless musician) a beaten down 2-stringed violin and he will make sweet music.  Take away LeBron’s sneakers and replace them with Chuck Taylors and he will still posterize you so bad your own mother will be ashamed to look at you.  For photographers, here’s something easier to relate to, Chase Jarvis and his iPhone.  You get the idea.

Ken Rockwell once said, the word image, comes from the work imagination … not “lens sharpness” or “low noise levels”.  No imagination = no image.  “The most important component of a camera is the 12 inches behind it” Ansel Adams. 

But there HAS to be a reason why the pros use the best gear right?
Sure, but only for limited reasons:
– Good gear makes it easier to get the results you want
– Good gear  will be more durable, you’ll need this if you thrash your gear on a daily basis
– It may be more convenient (again, easier)
Notice how I mentioned YOU in those points.  At the end of the day it’ll all come down to you as the artist.  Don’t ever start thinking that it was the gear that made your artworks.  YOU did it. 

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I went rally driving today, in a real rally car on a rally track.  I know how to drive, you push the pedal and turn the wheel and avoid killing yourself.  The rally car had much higher performance than my everyday car, more grip, more torque, bucket seats, Momo steering wheel.  In the briefing, my instructor focussed on steering technique, braking and throttle timing, and that sometimes less is more.  On my first lap I was crap, I was slow, the car was sliding everywhere and I was shitting myself.  A couple of laps later I got a lot better and a lot more confident.  Having a sweet ride tuned for the conditions didn’t automatically make me a rally driver, just like having a sweet camera won’t make you a photographer. 

Barry White once said “Too much of anything is not good for you”.  Sometimes the easiest way to get a crap shot is to have too much gear.