As I mentioned, I bought a lot of two Canon digital SLRs off eBay. I got a great price. I succeeded the other night in selling one of the two for a fair price. (Which means that I ended up getting the 10D for under $300 after it was all said and done.)
However, the lens was part of the deal, which left me with a great camera but no lens. I’d already been wanting to get something with a better range, so it gave me a great opportunity to justify buying another one.
I ended up with a pair of lenses. While I’d have loved something fast like a 50mm f/1.0 and a 200mm f/1.8 lens, I didn’t have the $6,000 to spend. So I ended up with a pair of Sigma lenses: they actually come as a pack. There’s an 18-50mm lens (f/3.5-5.6) and a 55-200mm lens (f/4-5.6). This is a very small step up in lens speed, but a giant leap in range. With the 1.6x crop on Canon digital SLRs, this is an effective 29-320mm lens. (And 29mm is much wider than I’d have expected!)
I took both lenses around campus. For outdoor stuff, I found the 55-200mm lens to be the more useful one: rare do I want to be a foot away from whatever I’m photographing. So I got a few of the banal shots: the library clocktower, the view from the top of the hill, and a few flowers. And as I stood outside the building waiting for a meeting, a butterfly flew by. I thought it’d make a great photo, but it’d be pretty tricky to get it in flight. But I lucked out. It landed on some flowers maybe 3 feet from where I was standing.
And this is what I love so much about the SLR: you just shoot to your heart’s content. I probably averaged 2 or 3 photos a second. Ordinarily you take a picture, wait a few seconds for it to write to disk, and take another… And don’t forget trying to pre-focus and everything so that shutter lag is under a second. Here I just shot non-stop. Quite a few turned out no good. But a few were great.
Part of the problem was that I was shooting “wide open” at f/5.6. (But at 200mm or so.) This left me with a pretty narrow depth of field, but it was subtle enough that I didn’t notice reviewing on the screen. (Which is perhaps why Canon’s newest cameras are coming with gigantic screens, 2.5-3″!) So in some shots the butterfly’s antenna (I almost said antlers) would be in focus, but the wings wouldn’t be. I had plenty of light, though, so I could have closed the lens a bit, but I didn’t think to.
This shot illustrates that problem pretty well:
A bit better:
John Kerry’s speaking outside Faneuil Hall on Monday afternoon, which should give me some great portraiture opportunities, plus an excuse to spend the late morning / early afternoon wandering about Boston taking photos.