Starting up with a DSLR


As I mentioned in an earlier post, Shamu destroyed my Fuji P&S and I had to capture all the beauty of the Bahamas on my lousy cameraphone. So, I decided to make the best of the situation and get my self a DSLR rather than another point-and-shoot. Armed with a $1k budget and some basic research, I settled on the Canon EOS 400D (aka Digital Rebel XTi) which is nearly unbeatable at that price range. My goal was to end up with a setup as close as possible to the Fuji S5100 I had, especially in terms on lens length -the Fuji had a 10x zoom: 37-370mm at 35mm eq. So, at first, I decided to forgo the kit lens and buy a used Tamron 28-200 f4.0-5.6 lens off eBay. I also managed to snag a 2 gig CF card from newegg, a 4 gig CF microdrive off of woot and a rather large camera case from Case Logic in preperation for our New York trip. 

During the trip, I found the lens rather lacking especially in terms of build quality. After using it for 2 days, I started getting the infamous Error-99 that is common for 3rd party lenses when used with Canon cameras. So, after getting back from the trip, I decided to return the zoom lens and replace it with the Canon 50mm/f1.8 II, which is pretty much the best portrait lens you can get (other than the f/1.4 which costs 4 times as much). I also bought the 18-55mm kit lens, to cover some zoom range and I was pleasantly surprised by the image quality on the lens. I had read really bad reviews of the lens and didn’t have very high expectations, but coming from a point-and-shoot world, I suppose my bar for image quality was pretty low 🙂 It was also good to have, for the first time, an 18mm (28mm @ 35mm eq) lens which could take some pretty sweet wide-angled shots. I don’t think I had ever taken a photo wider than 35mm before, so it was neat to take relatively wide shots like this one:

Beat up old pick up

What was really cool, however, was the ability to take a series of exposure locked 18mm shots and stitch them together to get a panoramic view like this shot of the Columbia River Gorge:

Columbia River Gorge Panorama

You can see remnants of the vignetting in the shot above that is probably the reason experts pan this lens, but well, it does its job pretty well as far as I care, especially with shots like the one below.

Flowers by the road


A few days later, I gave in to high-zoom temptation again and decided to buy a new Tamron lens. After debating between the 18-250mm and the 28-300 mm, I decided to get the 28-300mm – mainly because it was cheaper. This lens is f3.5-6.3 – so though it’s a little slow on the long end, the f3.5 gives me the ability to shoot indoors at the wide end. The image quality is nothing to write home about, but with the 11x range, this lens will probably be my primary walkaround lens till I save up to get a higher end Canon IS or Sigma OS lens. The only thing I miss in this lens is macro mode, but I figure since that’s something the kit lens has, I’m covered there.

Some shots I took with this lens:

 Wasp landing on a flower

My favorite shot with this lens so far – surprisingly sharp at 300mm/f6.3.

I also took this lens out to a softball game that D’s coworkers’ were playing. This was my first attempt at sports photography and I learned a lot of don’t and don’ts. Here’re some shots that stood out:



Overall, I’ve taken 2500+ photos in the one month that I’ve had the camera – that sounds like a crazy figure, but it’s been a fun ride learning all about what the camera, lens and a bit of post-processing can do.

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