I love to take pictures. I think one of the main attractions for me is the ability to do something artistic and permanent. Much of my professional effort is on things that are more ephemeral like organizations and product releases. Those things evolve very quickly and what was “new” and exciting is forgotten in as little as a year. Pictures are forever though.

I started taking pictures when we lived in California. We bought our first digital camera (a Kodak), and it went everywhere with us. Over time, we upgraded our digital cameras, but they were still fixed lens little jobs which mostly evolved around MegaPixel resolution and size of LCD.

In 2004, I decided to start researching DSLRs (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras. I had never owned a film SLR (aside from one I picked up in a Vegas pawn shop, but that’s a whole other story). I looked at and read about all the latest cameras, and settled on a Canon EOS 2oD.

I’ll offer some free advice on equipment. I think for the most part, I’ve made great choices, but there are some things I’d do differently. First off, I would recommend looking on Amazon.com or Adorama.com because they consistently have great prices and great selections. If you know what you want, look there first.

So, here’s what I have:

  • Canon EOS 20D : Review here

Great camera, and no regrets about the purchase. 8.2 MegaPixels, 1.8″ diagonal LCD. It’s been replaced with the 30D, which has a redesigned body and a 2.5″ LCD. That LCD makes a big difference. Check out the 30D review here.

This is one of the 2 lenses that I keep on my camera. It’s the 2nd lens and I bought, and I’ve found it’s a great general purpose lens. I’ve used it for close-ups of people, as well as wider shots. It’s a very good lens, and I recommend it.

This was a mistake. When I bought the camera, instead of just getting the body, I decided to buy it with this lens. Well, the lens feels like a piece of plastic. There’s no mass to it, and the few times I’ve used it have produced uninspiring results. I’d recommend you pass on this. There’s a reason it’s bundled with many bodies, and that’s because I doubt anyone would actively seek out this lens.

I just bought this lens recently. I’ve been looking for an ultra wide angle lens for large landscape shots as well as group shots. This has become my other “go to” lens. It’s a great piece of glass, and I used it extensively in Phuket. I rarely took it off my camera, and was very pleased with the results. It’s a substantial feeling lens, and the optics are fantastic. When I bought this lens, I decided to protect my investments by putting a good UV filter on them. I did this for my 100-400m zoom. I liked the results that the filter gave me. I haven’t tried putting both the UV and the Polarizer but I’m curious to see what happens (and how much light I lose).

This is a very heavy lens. But I’ll happily lug it around for miles because the shots I get with it are very pleasing. It’s certainly not my fastest lens, but for outdoor sporting use (like my F1 trips) it’s amazing. If you’re going to get a lens like this you must invest in a decent monopod. The stabalization in this lens is pretty good, and suits the task of horizontal panning with a car very well. I’ve put a UV filter on this one as well to protect the glass. It gets crowded in those great spots for F1 shots, so better safe than sorry. This is the glass that gives folks some lens envy. In fact I recently spent time with someone who insisted that “his was bigger”.

This is also a new lens for me. I have had great fun taking extreme macro pictures of insects, flowers, and anything else that strikes me as interesting. I need to get a better tripod than the one I have because this is a lens that will require great composition and preparation in order to get the best results. But in the limited experimentation I’ve done gives me high hopes for some great results with this lens.

Now all this equipment isn’t light. And I haven’t yet developed the discipline to leave some glass behind (well, actually, I do leave the 18-55 behind regularly). So I have lenses, body, filters, cables, extra batteries, extra flash cards, external flashes etc. It’s a lot of stuff. I also have my 17″ MacBook. It would be great to be able to carry all this stuff in 1 bag. Well, this is the one! It’s not a small bag, but it will carry everything you need and then some. I carried this to the other side of the Earth and wasn’t bothered by it. It was heavy to be sure, but when you carry it the right way, it’s not a problem. I was worried that I’d have problems with Thai Airways because it is big and heavy, but nobody batted an eye. So it’s carry on luggage.

This is the companion for my 100-400mm zoom. It’s light, very sturdy and collapses to a size that makes strapping it to the back of my bag easy. It’s a definite must-have for anyone with a heavy lens.

I have a few assorted accessories as well. I bought the battery grip because I like the shape of the camera better, as well as the longer life I get because I’m doubling up the batteries. I have a Remote Switch for macro shots and a few extra batteries. I shoot with an 8GB fast CF card, and have 2 2GB backups.

Finally, one thing that was driving me nuts was sensor dust. No matter how careful you are, sooner or later, you’re going to get dust on your sensor. It’s not going to be visible with your lens wide open, but when you shoot something at f/22 or higher you’ll see those dreaded blotches in your picture. They’re especially clear when you’re shooting with a bright homogeneous background like the sky. Well, I did some tests, and my sensor was seriously dirty. At f/22 I took some pictures of a white sheet of paper, and it looks like someone sneezed on my sensor.


I did some research, and found a Canadian company VisibleDust that sells both wet and dry sensor cleaning kits. I ordered one of each, and can state confidently that these tools work very well. Cleaning your sensor is an intimidating task, but if you follow their instructions it’s pretty simple.

Well, that’s all for now. I’m sure I’ve missed something, but I’ll fix it later.

mJm

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