The Men’s Group here at Homewood at Plum Creek toured Penn Township’s Emergency Services Center. Our bus driver had stars in her eyes as she dreamed.
I am contemplating a change and reduction in cameras. I’ll have more later about it, but I will make note here that I took most of my pictures at 17 mm (effective 28 mm on the Canon 70D). I literally had my back against the wall to make it work for the group shot.
Another reference point for later: I got tired of carrying and using the Canon 70D with the Sigma 17 – 70 mm lens while walking around with a cane.
I am considering slipping into two different modes for much of my photography. One mode tends to be sharp, clear, and documentary. I will use this mode for my Homewood and Hanover related projects. These types of images will probably be primarily made with both my Canon SL1 using the Sigma 17 – 70 mm lens and my Ricoh GR with its effective 18.3 mm lens.
Another mode that I like is similar to the images shown above. These types are limited, collapsed perspective images made with long focal length lenses like the above made with an effective 300 mm lens. Due to the necessity of a long focal length lens while at the same time desiring to keep weight and size to a minimum, I am considering using a micro 4/3 system. I used my Olympus E-PL5 with the Olympus 40 – 150 mm lens for the above images. My problem is that the camera I used, the E-PL5, doesn’t have a viewfinder and that is a limiting factor for long focal length lenses since it is hard to hold the camera-lens combination steady enough. In addition, I tend to accidentally hit buttons when I use it vertically, especially when shooting quickly.
My other option is to expand my use of the Canon camera and get a longer lens for it. The advantage is primarily using one Canon system; the disadvantage is the increased weight and size. In addition, if I found a lens I liked and could handle with the SL1 camera, I could potentially sell all of my micro 4/3 gear and Pentax gear.
And then there is the “big option” … my Pentax K-3 with the 55 – 300 mm lens. The advantage of it is that I have it and the lens is better and longer (effective 450 mm at the long end). Other advantages are that I also have a vertical grip for it and I prefer the vertical/portrait orientation with this style of image, and it a weather resistant system. The disadvantage is that the K-3 and lens and vertical grip is large and heavy.
The purpose of this post is to show you the quality, sharpness, etc. of the Sigma 17 – 70 mm lens zoomed all the way out to 70 mm. I took the following picture handheld at f/9, 1/640 sec.
The following image is a crop showing the bird in the tree. Note the sharpness of the bird and the tree limbs, and no chromatic aberration either.
Note that these images have not been altered by me in any way other than for the crop. The picture was taken in raw format and what you see is the image as processed by Adobe Lightroom 5.7 with their standard settings.
I am still in the process of deciding whether I will use this combination of camera and lens as my walk-about setup for outdoors or whether I need a longer focal length lens. Based on what I have seen so far I am leaning toward “making-do” with just this setup for my DSLR camera and lens preference.
I took this picture while I was seeing how well the Sigma 17 – 70 lens focused up close, and while looking at the result I was reminded that I should probably tell you some more about why I have pursued a lighter, more easy to hold camera system that still lets me practice photography. You have read enough about my back problems, but it isn’t the only problem. My hands are also a big problem, and at the moment they are giving me more grief than my back. I have arthritis in my back and hands.
Have you ever found yourself using both hands to lift a can of beer at the end of the day? I sometimes find myself doing that to keep from dropping it, especially if I have carried and used a camera much during the day. This is another reason why I am exploring lighter-weight cameras with better grips and changing what I photograph to fit an easier to use format.
There is a positive side to my life. Physical changes force me to try new things. I have gotten tired of photographing the same things in the same way, and I now have an excuse to look for, and try new things … new cameras and lenses and new subjects and techniques.
I like the Canon SL1 camera well enough that I purchased the Sigma 17 – 70mm (f/2.8 – 4) zoom lens for it. I am still checking it out under various conditions but so far I like the features for the cost. I took the above picture with it at the 70 mm end of the zoom while I was out with my first walk with it.
I have also taken some indoor pictures of people with it and it performed OK. The Canon exposures and white balance of all pictures are a lot more pleasing than I get with my much heavier and more expensive Pentax K-3 camera. As of now, I plan to switch and photograph with the Canon SL1 and the Sigma lens for a while to see how well I adapt to it. So far the reduced weight and easier carrying of this system outweighs the few advantages of the too-heavy K-3 and longer lenses and it should work for most of my projects at Homewood.
The Canon SL1 with the 24 mm prime lens and the 17 – 70 mm Sigma lens are working out to be a very good, inexpensive setup for most of my photography. The two major issues facing me are longer focal lengths and photographing close to people. I need to figure out if I can have an adequate amount of fun photographing with the 70 mm limitation. If I miss the longer focal lengths I will have to decide what to do about it. The other issue is about photographing in and among people. The combination of the Canon shutter noise and DSLR form factor are not ideal among people. I need to decide if the Ricoh GR focal length works well enough for that kind of photography.