Canon versus Tamron VC 24-70mm f2.8
Before I went to a full frame camera my favorite lens was the Canon 17-55mm f2.8 IS lens. I think that this lens is one of the best walk around lenses you can have for an APS DSLR. I had a 1000d (Rebel XS), then 50D, then 7D. Between the wide aperture and IS I felt that I could take stunning shots over a wide range of light conditions.
But APS was not good enough for me when you can have full frame. So I saved my money and got the 5DMkII. Nice camera. But now I can’t use my favorite lens anymore. The equivalent full frame lens is the Canon 24-70mm f2.8.
Another great lens but NO IS !!!! What the heck! The 5D full frame offers much more data for post processing and and better ISO performance. If it only had IS…. It would be Great!!. Yes there is a 24-105 f4 IS. But many times I want to have a more wide aperture. I want to have what I had with the 17-55mm f2.8.
So when Canon Rumors picked up that there was going to be a new 24-70mm I was sure it was going to be an IS version….but sadly it was just an improved optics version of the old 24-70. The old lens was already pretty good.
Then the rumor of a Tamron VC 24-70mm or the full name Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens. The important part of that was the VC (vibration compensation), Tamron’s version of IS! Then the official announcement. I swore that i would wait till the reviews came in…. but I wanted one so much I went ahead and put in a preorder.
I had not received it yet and some preliminary reviews came in from early buyers. The onion skin bokeh showed up.
OMG what have I ordered! Then others showed that all lenses do this, in varying degrees, in similar conditions. I wonder why I always buy stuff before it is well reviewed.
My main concern that I still had was that, I know that, when canon makes an L class lens you get good image quality images. But I did not know anything about Tamron.
Anyhow…. it came in the mail. Oh boy oh boy.
By the way here are the comparative stats ( with prices on 31May12):
|Model||24-70mm 1:2.8||SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD|
|Construction||16 elements 13 groups||17 elements 12 groups|
|Angle of view||84 dg to 34 deg||84 dg 1m to 34 dg 21 m|
|Focus||Front-Focusing method||Front-Focusing method|
|Closest||1.25 ft||1.25 ft|
|Lens hood||Round some petaling||flower shaped|
|Weight||33.5 oz||29.1 oz|
First impressions about the Tamron VC 24-70mm with comparisons to the Canon:
1. It feels heavier, but its not . I always thought the Canon was a big lens for such small focal lengths but the Tamron VC 24-70mm feels wider ( it is at 82 vs 77mm) and it feels denser. Not sure what that means but I liked the feel of it.
2. The zoom is tight and its on a different ring. Its closer to the lens in the opposite position from the Canon. I am still getting used to it. By comparison it makes the canon feel like something is too loose. One good thing is that you will never experience zoom creep on this. Tamron included a zoom lock but its overkill and only works at 24mm. I guess I would like it a little looser but not as loose as the Canon. On the canon if I extend it to 70mm and set it on the table it compresses on its own to nearly 24mm. The Tamron VC 24-70mm just stays there.
3. There’s that VC button….. mm-hhmmm, nothing like that switch on the Canon. With my old man hands I can take shots down to about 1/80 sec on the canon at 70mm….. not too bad eh. But with the Tamron VC, on a good day, I can take shots down to about 1/15 sec. And that my friends opens up a lot more lighting conditions without having to go to high ISO settings. It is very enabling.
4. The lens is huge, it is 82mm, and its right there at the top of the body. Its like begging for a scratch. But I looked at the Canon and its just as close. The hood is fairly shallow too compared to the canon. The canon hood is huge. I needed the help of a reader to figure this one out. Tamron’s VC 24-70mm lens hood is what you would expect in a wide lens but on the Canon you need to fully extend it to get to the 24mm. So the hood has to provide glare protection as the lens moves through it. The other downside of the 82mm is filters. I have a Canon 24-70mm 2.8, 70-200mm 2.8, 17-40mm 4, Sigma 50mm 1.4. They all use 77mm lenses. So I have 1 polarizer, a 10 stop ND, 1 set cokin filters that all fit 77 mm. They are useless for this new lens. So I have already had to get another polarizing filer and I am thinking about getting some of the other filters in 82mm. So now I have to carry a double set of filters….. ugh.
Note that one reader said that I could use a step down filter adapter. Also the p series cokin set does have a 82mm glass holder but I have read that you will get some vignetting with that set-up with a wide angle. So I think I will have to get the pro series cokin filters (more stuff and more $$) Let me know if this is wrong.
5. General build quality. It feels pretty good. the AF and VC buttons are smaller but they are ok
As for performance I don’t see that big of a difference except the image stabilization is wonderful to have…..which is why I got it. Here are some other things that I found out as I have played with it.
1. Lens Sharpness is a little better on the Tamron VC 24-70mm at 70mm but a little better on the Canon at 24mm. I ran Reikan’s Focal lens calibration software on it to see if I could quantify it and sure enough it verified what I thought I was seeing….but these are small differences.
2. One thing that did surprise me with the FoCal test. They have a AF consistency test. You can run 10 or more shots and see how often the target is in focus. Tamron VC 24-70mm lens was REALLY consistent like within .4 % over 10 points where the Canon came in at around 3.8 %. Another reviewer found the same result….. So the Tamron has an edge on consistency.
3. I have had no issues with bokeh. Here is a quicky comparison of a couple of roughly 100% crops of the first image. The first crop is the Tamron VC 24-70mm and the second is the Canon. One reader suggested that I take a picture where there is bright points of light coming through a dark area. I have included that and you can see the famous “onion skin” effect. This does not bother me as I do not take many shots like this and its easy to repair with a little blur tool.
I am not a BOKEH connoisseur but these both look ok to me.
4. There is a small issue with vignetting on the Tamron VC 24-70mm. You really only see it at 24mm and I don’t normally see it unless I am looking for it. Here are a couple of shots I took. Again the Tamron is on the left and the Canon is on the right. Its there but its hardly noticable.
So I would have to say that the Tamron is an equivalent lens to the Canon. But add the VC image stabilization to it and for me it makes it a much superior lens for my kind of photography. I did good buying it 😉
I need and want all of my images to be spot on tack sharp. So I spend the necessary time to make sure I get that from my photography.
The higher end DSLR’s today come with some kind of lens microadjustment. And there are lots of ways to calibrate your lenses using that capability. I wrote about all of the ones that I knew of about a year ago HERE.
But I found a new one…. and its REALLY Cool. In fact it’s the only method that I use now. Its Reikan’s FoCal System.
It’s AUTOMATIC or at least that is one of the options. There is some set-up required but no more than all of the other systems. After that just sit back and relax while it snaps away. You even get a data report at the end.
So let me tell you about the System and why I think its so great. I will also show/tell you about some tips about how to run the calibration.
So what is the system. Well there is no hardware….its all software. You need to have a decent printer and a PC or a Mac (in a week or so a Mac version is coming out). I think its better to have a laptop so that you can set it up close to the camera. You will need a tripod. Oh and your camera and lenses are necessary.
How does it work? Well this is my understanding of how it works. They have a target that has a lot of sharp edges on it. I think they somehow measure the total whiteness of the target. If the lens is not focused there will be blurring of some of those sharp edges. That will reduce the total whiteness. The software controls the camera by taking several shots at each each AF MA (micro-adjustment) point. A curve of the points of data is plotted of whiteness value (they call it Focus Quality) versus MA point. They are very secretive on how this all works so this is only a guess on my part. There is a peak whiteness point to the plot for a specific MA point…. And there is your final MA setting.
The software keeps track of any light changes that have nothing to do with the MA adjustment. This is important in that if you are using sunlight or indirect sunlight or CLF lighting. There can potentially be light shifting. Also if there is not a good curve fit as it traverses the MA spectrum it will ask you to run more data points. The program can also run focus points off center. It can run wide and telescoped calibrations on zoom cameras. It also has a tool that will run a lens through its different aperture values and tell you the sweet ( aperture) spot.
I am an engineer by profession and I gotta tell you that this software is REALLY Cool.
Can I trust it?
I think yes. I went back to the Lens AlignPro system the I was previously in love with and reran the cal on that and got the same result. But I realized then that there is a lot of quasi qualitative judgement going on. In the visual systems you rely on some judgement on where the front focus area starts and where the back focus ends. These are not hard lines because depth of field focus continuously improves to a focus point and then diminishes to the back end of the the dof.
The Reikan’s Focal System is taking digital measurements (I assume) and using statistics to determine where that peak focus is. I suppose that a weakness of this compared to the others is that we do not all want our peak focus point in the center of the DOF field. Some of us want a little front focus others a little back focus. This is visualized better on a visual system like lens align. But, you can get the same results by looking at the Reikan’s Focal System data and just picking an AF MA that will put the peak just forward or behind the optimum. But you won’t get the visual confidence that you CAN see in lens align.
Another issue with Reikan’s Focal System is the lack of a target to camera alignment system. Reikan’s Focal System does have a neat software system that verifies the target and makes sure that you have enough of the target in the view, that the center is under the cameras center focus sensor, and that the target is not rotated too far. But there is nothing that makes sure that the target plane is parallel to the camera sensor plane. As I discussed in earlier blog LensAlign Pro has a system that ensures these planes are aligned. I get around that by putting my target on a wall that is more or less perpendicular to the floor.
Another tip is the paper for the target. Reikan’s Focal System recommends a thick good quality paper. I ignored this at first and just used regular paper. Bad idea. I found that it is difficult to get regular paper to lay flat on a wall no matter how much you tape it down. In addition I think the higher quality of the paper allows for sharper edges on the target and this, I believe improves the test. The paper that I found works best is Office Depot’s Premium Brochure & Flyer Paper. Its 45 lb paper with a 96 brightness rating.
Its also important to have the target well lit. I started with just using the indirect light from my windows and the overhead room light. There were lots errors with added points needed. Next I tried a couple of small LED lights that I use for reading sheet music. FoCal instructions say to NOT use LED as it is a pulsing light. I checked it out on the internet and LED’s do pulse, some as slow as 60 hz. But they did work out fairly well with an occasional error. Recently I have been using a large bright (high kelvin) CFL that I use with my lightbox set up. FoCal also warns about this as it too pulses. But my research showed that the frequency of these lights are between 1200 and 45000 hz. All the tests that I have run with FoCal have been with a TCP spring light CLF (6500K), with a pulse frequency of 45K hz, work with this light. Note that I have found that at 45000 cycles per second that, from internet postings, that the phosphorescence in these CFL’s stay bright between pulsing that is that fast and therefore they are a constant light source. I think focal would like you to do this in direct sunlight, which I think is impractical, or will some other non pulsing light. I am guessing that there are studio lights that do that…. but I don’t have any so my set up will do.
Here is a video of the light discussion:
Positioning the target and camera are important as well. I measure the height to the center of the target. I then set up my camera on a tripod. I have a ball head with a level and make sure that the head is more or less pointing at the target and level.
I then put my camera on the head and adjust the camera height so that the center of the lens is the same as the center of the target. With that done I look into the viewfinder or the live view and move the tripod/camera left or right to put the center focus sensor on the target. If the height is not right I will adjust the height again. Sometimes I have to adjust the ball a tiny bit to make sure that the sensor is right in the middle of the target. But no major adjustments. And I deem that good enough. I am tempted to build a target like the lensalign but with the Reikan’s Focal System target. Note that I may have totally missed the technology associated with the Reikan’s Focal System and maybe target to camera sensor parellel-ness is not that necessary.
Here is how I do my final alignment of my camera to the target:
Finally I run the calibration. Now there are a lot of presets or preferences that you can set depending on whether you want a very thorough and complete cal or a more cursory one that just gets you in the ballbark. The camera settings need to be preset. Although the software will do a lot of this. The instructions that come with this system are long but very thorough and easy to understand.
When you start the software, with the USB connected it should recognize your camera as one of the cameras that you have registered to this software. You then need to run the target program to make sure the target is set up correctly. The software will provide a live view along with visual clues as to where you need to move the camera. The start the program. Get a cup of tea or coffee. Relax. But do it quickly because the calibration is relatively quick depending on your preferences. You can also watch the readings as the program goes through the MA selections.
About half way through you will see a colored bar (green) that will indicate an initial guess at the correct MA point. Then the program checks and validates the MA points near that point. Then you are done. The statistically optimum point is chosen and set. You can even download a report, with lots of pages, detailing the findings for that lens.
There are some other goodies on the software as well. It will tell you where the aperture sweet spot is on the lens. It will tell you if you have dust on your sensor and where it is. It will check to see how repeatable the camera lens combination is on AF.
I think this is just amazing. Here is video of my running a calibration on a Canon 5D Mk II with a 24-70mm f2.8 lens.
Finally, I did this cal with the 1.4 version of the software. It is PC only. They recently included both the Canon 5 D MK III and the new Nikon DSLR’s. I know that with the 5D Mk III that it will only run in semi-automatic mode. So everything is the same but I have to manually change the MA between each shot. Its not the best but I still will use it over the lens align because I trust the results. I think that Reikan is working on it. The Canon software necessary to run the auto was only recently release. And they are not sure if they will be able to make that camera automatic as of late May12.
The other cool thing is that there will be a MAC version coming out very soon. Its in beta release now. I do all my photo processing on the Mac side of my macbookpro so I would rather do the calibration on that side.
A final note. As cool as ALL of these lens microadjustment systems are, And again I think Reikan’s Focal System is the best, this does not guarantee an in focus shot. Could could be on a tripod looking at a stationary target. You could have the most rigorous Reikan or LensAlign calibration going for you. And the shot could still be a little out of focus with AF. Because AF is not 100% repeatable. The AF systems today are awfully good but not perfect yet. So I say do these calibrations and then take lots of shots…. One will be perfect!!
One more thing…. please do not look at the little bits of food on my glasses and lower lip…… Its embarrassing. I will know now to look in the mirror before my next video. But its too much work to do these things and I just figured…. what the hell.
This post is about how to recover deleted files, in this case Aperture 3 library files.
First…. I am a fairly careful guy with my images. I use them for personal use and for Microstock (helps pay for all this expensive gear). I usually download my images to my laptop after a days shooting. When I get home I process them. Once a month take all the images on my laptop and move them to a hard drive with ALL of my images. Every few months I back up that drive to another drive.
None of that helped me with this.
Just came back from a 30 day vacation and the desktop of my Macbook Pro was a mess and full of useless files. And my hard drive was getting full so I figured I would do some spring cleaning. 15 minutes later my desktop is clean and then I empty the trash.
Now that I have a clean looking desktop I know it would be good to start processing those 400 images ( took thousands but these were whittled down to the best). Those images included some of the best I have ever taken like this one:
But…. I deleted my Aperture Library!
I opened Aperture and NOTHING was there…. NO Library of images. OMG….. I trashed the library of images.
I went through the seven stages of bad news:
– Shock or Disbelief – Wait it had to be somewhere else….. Nope
– Denial – This is rediculous…..There is no way I deleted it…..Keep looking
– Anger – GD IT !!!!
– Bargaining —- Not sure I did this one
– Guilt – I don’t deserve to be a Photographer
– Depression – This is so sad I can’t stand it
– Acceptance and Hope – Wait maybe there is a way.
How I recover deleted files
So I did a bunch in internet research. Now this is mostly MAC based but some of these programs have PC counterparts. I checked out Disk Warrior, Data Rescue III, Disk Drill, and a few others. I looked for reviews and they were all over the place. Most of this software will allow a free download that will discover the trashed files but then you have to pay to RECOVER the files. I found Disk Drill to be one of the betters. I found that they all found the same files. And the recoveries were similar. I picked Disk Drill because it allow for some filtering of the results like, when deleted, file size, chance of recover, type of file. Make sure that you have an external drive connected or another partition. You will want to cease and desist from any downloading to your main boot drive. This is because every time you add more data, like a download, you could be writing over one of those precious images.
So I ran the programs. I recovered about 900 image files!!! That was the good news. The bad news is that about 50% of the files were corrupted with only part of the images showing. The other issue is that many of files were images that I had rejected over the past year for lack of image quality. So it took HOURS to go through all of the images and sort out the the images.
In the end I got about 300 of the 400 images back. Most of my best ones were recovered.
Then I had another brilliant idea….. could many of the images still be on my CF data cards. The problem there is that I erase and reformat them after every use. I ran disk drill on them as well and found a lot of earlier shots that were part of my laptop yet-to-be-loaded microstock images.
Moral of the Story
1. Don’t keep you library or folder of images on your desktop where it is easy to drag to the trash
2. Do not go into depression…. you probably can recover many of those images.
This is more of a rant than a blog post.
I have got the Canon EOS 5D Mark III fever…. bad. I used to have the 7D. Great camera. Loved the high frame rate and AF system but I ultimately wanted a full frame camera. So a couple years ago I got the 5D Mark II. I loved the FF image quality and the improved ISO performance. So pretty soon all I was using was the 5D. So I sold the 7D to afford a lens upgrade. Well….. I still love the 5D Mk II but I miss that AF system and the frame rate.
I started hunting the internet for rumors of a Canon EOS 5D Mark III about 2 years ago. There were strong rumors that it was coming out in Sept 11. I did a post here But when the earthquake it….. we all assumed that it would slow everything down…And it looked like it did. Then there were rumors of an announcement in Feb12, then March12, then early March 12.
The specs looked like what I was looking for. A BETTER AF system than the 7D. A frame rate less than the 7D (I guess FF fps are expensive to do) but still 50% greater than the Mark II. And rumors of improved ISO performance!!! Price was high…but when you have the fever it does not matter.
I waited in anticipation.
I caught all of the announcement info on the evening of 1Mar12. Got on a preorder list with B&H that evening. Called the local Camera shop first thing in the morning and got in the list.
Still waiting. People had them a few days ago in London, Hong Kong, Austrualia. Yesterday people around the US were getting them from small camera shops.
Not me…….. Yet……..
I feel like a 5 year old who was promised candy by the end of the day only to be told I would get it sometime later. WHAAAAAAAAAAA!
I will post when I get it…… may be soon?
This post is about the Thinktank Retrospective 20 DSLR Camera Bag Review. I will let the video below do most of my talking but I like this bag. I have had a bunch of bags. My previous was the 7 million dollar crumpler bag. It was fine but it was too noticeable and for some of the reasons I cover in the video….. I needed a better bag. I still use the Rapid Strap RS-4 but if I need extra lenses and other “stuff” the thinktank bag comes with me.
The video on the thinktank retrospective 20 review can be seen HERE
I love this strap…. what can I say. I just found another use for it. And several people have asked about what I can put in that little pouch that comes with it.
Well….. we just moved from Sacramento, CA to Portland, OR. We love it up here. But the rains have hit. In order to keep from going crazy we try to get outside as often as possible. But the weather is very changeable. It can be sunny, partly cloudy, very cloudy, misting, and raining …. all on one walk ( like yesterday). I have nice waterproof crumpler and think tank bags but I just hate bags. And for casual every day walks…. they don’t make sense to me. So ergo…. the RS-4.
But on the last walk….which started out sunny….it started to rain. And I have no DSLR Rain Protection on me. Now, at home, I also have a emergency camera cover complete with lens cinch and eye piece hole. I could have stuck that in my pocket…but its a little bulky. Well were were walking to the market and there in the produce department were these flimsy (but very packable) plastic bags. I opened one up….. it covers my 5 D MKII with the 24-70mm lens AND lens hood… PERFECTLY. So I put that one (after we leave the store). Of course now it is not raining and the sun has come out.
Now…. where can put this so I never have to think about bring it and I will always have it!!!!! So now I have DSLR rain protection in my Rapid Strap.
It fit perfectly in the RS-4 … that already had a spare battery and back-up CF cards.
Will this work with my larger lenses…. probably not. But I usually break down and use a bag when I carry the bigger lenses. Can I take pictures with this bag on. No…. not unless i get some rubber bands and poke some holes in it. But I have found that I don’t seek out taking pictures in the rain. And when I do I usually have the more professional cover and my bag.
In a way this is kind of a follow on to my post about Why I love my Black Rapid Strap – I love it. I love everything about my Black rapid strap BUT….. I do not like how freely it swings. Like when I lean over into a car it will swing forward… And BAM! camera into car. Or if I am climbing up some rocks of a spit into the bay. CRASH! into the rocks.
So I went to look at alternatives.
If you don’t care how you look there is the Cotton carrier system. But to me you look like an alien out of Dr. Who with all that gear. Cotton also has a Lite system on a belt. The Spider Holster has the holster system on a belt as well. After a few hours of research I found that most users seemed to prefer the Spider system.
I also saw that a lot of people, while they liked the holster, they did not like the belt. Those people tended to really like the Think Tank Pro belt. Its a better belt. Spider sells a kit so that you can put the holster on. And the belt allows for putting other lens and camera accessories on it.
I have always liked the belts on my backpacks….so it seemed that this was a good idea. In addition I saw that some people keep the Black rapid strap attached. The logic is that if you are walking or climbing you have the camera in its holster. Then when you are staying on one local area you pull the camera out of the holster and the camera is secure and accessible all the time.
So I ordered a Spider Holster with the adapter for a Think tank belt. I also ordered a Think tank pro belt and Think Tank Lens Changer 75 Pop Down bag. The bag looked great. It could fit my 70-200mm f2.8. It has a pop out lower section so that I can store the lens WITH the hood on. Also comes with a rain cover.
Wow… this is going to be great right !!!!!
I wait a week in excited anticipation……
Well….. My Mom taught me to always say something nice before you tear something apart. OK….
All these items came exactly as advertised. Every one of the items was very well made. I am sure they would last for years. They all have lots of flexible features. And when you wear it ….. it does look cool. And it FIRMLY holds the camera in place. The camera rotated a little the ball joint but not anywhere else. So the problem of a swing camera is GONE.
When I put all of that stuff on my belt it felt heavy on my hips. I noticed the weight more than the combo of camera bag and rapid strap. I also noticed that you had to have the belt fairly tight so it did not start slipping down over my hips. Note that this could be a function of my age and body condition. But to make it work I had to tighten the belt more than what I am used to…. So now I am noticing the weight and the tightness around my waist (but on my hips). The holster came with i’ts own camera plate. I guess you could do with out it and just screw the ball connection straight into the camera but you would always have to remove it for tripod/ monopod mounting. The plate is VERY well built BUT its heavy and adds some volume to the camera. It does come with 3/8″ threaded attachment holes for mounting a quick dicsonnect plate. I use arca swiss so I put a small one on the spider plate. The bottom of the camera is getting a little busy now. It has this hefty plate on it. My arca plate is attached to that and then there is the ball attached thing. If you hold the camera at all from the bottom….you are now dealing with a few new things.
The belt tends to pull my pants down…..This might have been cute when I was 20…. but at 60….. not so much. Next… there is a little lever lock that you can set to be open all of the time or otherwise it will lock the ball in place. Here is the problem. I like to carry the camera in between the side of my hip and my butt. It seems to be most stable there AND I can naturally swing my arm as I walk. But….if you use the lock. Which is a good feature. You have to reach around your front with the opposite arm and find the lever to lift it. Its not only a long reach but you can’t see it. AND then there is the spider plate, the arca plate, the arca clamp on my black rapid strap, and the ball joint connected to the holster. All of this is in a small space between the camera and your hip and holster. So you have to reach way over and work by feel to push the lever up to unlock it so you can pull the camera up with your right hand. It could be easier without the BR strap but then nothing is securing the camera when its out of the holster. Maybe a hand or wrist strap might be better. Also you could put the holster closer to the front of you but I don’t think that would be that comfortable.
So I was just getting frustrated with the whole set-up…… Look for it on EBAY!
While writing this I just had an Epiphany! I love the Black rapid strap….BUT it swings forward and can bang into stuff. Well….. what is right there by the camera….I always have a belt on and there are also belt loops. I also always carry a couple of large carabiners. on my camera bag. I use them to attach the bag to the bottom of my tripod for stability. So I hooked it on a belt loop. Guess what. I do not feel it there. Ok…. now I hook it to the strap, then even better I hook it to the hardware that attaches the strap to my arca clamp that is part of the attachment. Whoa…. the camera stays put. And it does it just as good as the spider holster. It does take a few seconds to disconnect the clamp to free it up. But it took that long with the holster. Check out the video I made. BTW I know its out of focus and the lighting is not great and its a greatly down sampled video….but it helps to show what I am talking about.
Well this is going to work. I am surprised that Blackrapid does not sell some fancy expensive alternative that does the same thing?
Now someone might argue that it puts the weight all on your shoulder again. Well I don’t think it is that much. I don’t notice it at all with the Canon 5DMkII and the 24-70mm f2.8 L. When I put the 70-200mm f2.8 I feel some weight but its not oppressive.
It also occurred to be me that in stead of a carabiner you could use piece of rope, or a velcro strip or a clipped wrist strap or bracelet.
Update (28Apr11) –
Some people suggested that I try the RS-7 with a Brad strap or the newer Black Rapid Sport Extreme. It had a built in stabilizer strap like their BRAD strap. So I ordered it and got it today. It is much more stable than the RS-4 and it does limit the movement of the camera to a large degree. But when I leaned over….BAM it hits me on the elbow and end up swinging about 6-12 in below my belly. While this is much better than the bare RS-4…. it is not nearly as good as my carabiner idea. The BRAD strap is also something to get used to.
Then there is the Bag
The Think Tank Lens Changer 75 Pop Down bag. It looks great. It went on the Think tank belt great. You can set it up so it slides or can be fixed in one place. But here is the problem. It looks like it is a custom fit to the 70-200mm. So it sits in the bag with a nice comfortable fit. No looseness. I go to change lenses and when I pull the lens up the bag wants to come with it. Now it is firmly attached to the belt that is TIGHT around my waist. So it does come out. But I have to get a really good grip on it when I pull it out. I also tried it with the hood on. Again it fit really nicely. And I loved it that I did not have to fumble with the lens and have to put on the hood everytime I have to change lenses. BUT with the lens hood on. Its like twice as hard to pull it out of the bag.
I am used to having another bag around my shoulder with a lens or two in it. Now with that weight you do feel it on the shoulder a bit….but its not too bad. I have a 6 million dollar crumpler. With only a couple of added lenses in this bag they are secure but have a little space between the bag wall and the partiiton (that I place in it) So its REALLY easy to pull out and put back in
Travel Tripod Comparisons
In my last blog post here, I was reviewing the Benro tripod that was not working and was lamenting that I wanted to get another tripod. Well….. after about 8 hours worth of browsing the internet for Travel Tripod data and reviews, I came up with the the spreadsheet of Travel Tripod Comparisons below. Note my requirements or wish list is on the lower left. The stuff in green was what met my requirements. The stuff in blue are the items that met all of what I wanted or was close. I put comments next to each option. The item outlined in red was my choice, the Gitzo GT2541
. I also got a Kirk BH-3 head to go with it as I like that head. The Travel Tripod met all of my needs AND there were nothing but good reviews about. When I get it I will publish what I think…..hopefully it will be a good review!
This posting will be about the Benro Angel Travel Tripod Review.
We were headed to Ireland. What a photo opportunity that would be. But with all of the airline restrictions on carry-on and luggage weight…. I had to spend many hours trying to figure out what Photo equipment I could take. What would fit in my luggage, what could I take as carry-on, which lenses, tripod, monopod, both, camera bags, chargers, flash…..
It all gets really complicated. Added to that is that part of the trip would be on Ryan Air (Europe’s really stingy version of SWA) they are very particular on what you can bring on board. They even spot check weigh stuff.
I knew I wanted a tripod with me. Its essential, I think for landscapes and macro’s. I am really happy with the tripod at home (Velbon El Carmagne 530 w/ Kirk BH-3 ball head)
but they have long fold lengths and are heavy compared to travel tripods. For a steady camera platform its great.
So I searched the internet for a good travel tripod. It had fold down to a small size, extend to nearly my eye level ( I am lazy and getting older), and it had to be light weight.
I found a Gitzo model, Gitzo GT1541T, that fit my needs but it was just a little outside of my budget. In several forums I read that a good Chinese equivalent to the Gitzo’s were the Benro tripods. And they tended to have good reviews.
I found that they had a nice set of travel tripods called “Travel Angels”. The one that fit my needs was the C069M8B0. It folds into a 13.14″ (334mm) length, extends to 54 in (1380mm) and only weighed 1.8 lbs (.84kg). Yet it had a capacity of 13.2 lbs (6kg). My heaviest set-up is a Canon 5DMk II (2lbs, .9Kg), 70-200 f2.8 lens (3.2 lbs, 1.5 Kg) and maybe a 2X tele-extender (.7 lbs, .3Kg). So that is around 6 lbs or 3Kg. half the capacity of the tripod. This should work out great….. Right??? It looked just like the Gitzo except it had one more leg section and it was within my budget!
Well, when it arrived, it met with all of my expectations. It was tiny compared to my other tripods and oh so light. It came with a rugged canvas bag with a handle and two small D rings. The rings match perfectly with my Crumpler’s 3 million dollar bag strap clips. So I could clip the bag and the tripod case together to the crumplers shoulder strap. You barely notice the added weight. The fully extended height was a little lower than I liked. I am lazy and would love a good steady camera platform at about 58″. So fully extended I have to spread my legs or lean over. But thats ok.
It has a weight hook to add stability to my camera. I put a big D ring on the handle of my bag so I can just hang it from that. The tripod can also be put in reverse so that you get the really low shots.
The leg sections lock by rotating locking grips. The legs have 3 angles that lock. So there is lots of flexibility on height.
When I got this tripod I had a Canon 50d and my largest lens was the kit zoom that came with the camera. This tripod was marginal with that. But worked ok.
The first problem was that the tripod is so light that its is very vulnerable to tipping, vibration, or movement in strong winds. I guess I should not blame this model for those problems as even an expensive light Gitzo would have the same issue. There is a spring loaded hook at the bottom of the center post. You can pull that down and hook a weight to it. I put my smaller camera bag with a walk around lens in the bag. It steadied the tripod quite a bit.
BUT….now….. I have the 5D MK II and I have loaded my bag with other heavy lenses. I have found that this tripod is not so good even though my weight load is only about 50% of its capacity.
The other night I was trying to take pictures of the large moon going on. We were traveling so I had this tripod. The first issue is that it was cold outside. Its a lot easier to flip a lever lock clam shell fitting, like on my Velbon, than it is to crank these twist locks down. That seemed especially true when it was cold and I have gloves on. I got it all set up but it took a while. I put some weight on it with my hand to make sure the legs were locked….and they were not. I had to hunt a bit (it was dark) to find the culprit. It felt tight but I tightened it more. Tested it again….still had a problem….tightened more… done. So I put on the 5DMkII, the 2X extender, and the 100-400mm. Its half the weight capacity.
I took several shots and in each one the moon was extremely smeared. I mean the moon was at least 1 diameter too wide. Something was still slipping. In addition, As I was sighting in the moon there were several times where one foot of the tripod was lifted off the ground (because I was tilting it)…..but I could not feel it or notice it. Just too light. Then I thought that I would anchor it to my bag which was heavy. With the bag, I probably got the weight up to about 80% of capacity. Then two of the legs started collapsing. It felt like I was in a “Charlie Chaplin” movie.
So what can I conclude about all of this.
Any small light tripod, fully extended, will not be anywhere near as good as a normal heavier tripod. I think I hear a “DUH”!. That was not intuitively obvious to me.
These light tripods are still lots of stops better than a monopod……as long as they are not overloaded,
Second… for me…. If its cold outside, the flip a lever lock clam shell connections are much easier.
Finally, for this model, getting up over 50% of the weight capacity and maybe adding some cold temperatures, does not work. I experimented with putting a load on the tripod at room temperature and each legs starts slipping with enough load but not as bad as on that cold night. I am wondering if the cold has an affect on the joints (the tripod…. that is)
So, in summary, you have to be careful with these light tripods, they are top heavy and susceptible to being disturbed. As long as you keep the loading low, with smaller lenses or point and shoots, they will do ok. And the low weight and small folded size makes it REALLY easy to carry. But I need another option. I will check out the Gitzo’s and probably get a little larger one. I’ll end up compromising on the weight and size so I can have a more reliable tripod for my needs. But still be able to travel with it.
I will review the next one that I buy!
Note that this model travel angel has been discontinued. But it does make me nervous about buying another. Since the Travel Angel line was a “cheap” version of the Gitzo’s maybe the saying “you get what you pay for” comes into play.
So this posting is about how to sell your DSLR stuff on the internet
I am constantly selling stuff on the internet. Why….. because there is always a better camera, a better lens, a better tri-pod, flash unit etc. Also I just went from an APS-C DSLR to a full frame camera. So right away half my lenses would not work on the full frame camera. So I want to buy new stuff and have little or no need for my old stuff. And most importantly I don’t have enough money. Ugghh!
The way my family works is that we have weekly allowances. I budget everything. BTW that is one of the main ways you can retire like we are in our late 50’s early 60’s. But I digress. So we have budgets for vacations and groceries and fun money, vacations, ets. And then we each get $80/week for clothes and anything else we want…without asking for permission. So I dress like a homeless person and buy camera stuff.
But that is still not enough so I supplement that budget with money that I earn by doing microstock. I wrote about that earlier here. And that is still not enough…. yet (someday it will be). I still have another resource….. that equipment that is about to be replaced!!!
My first attempt was to sell on craigslist. That is a great internet site and I have bought and sold stuff there. The advantage for buyers, is that you can have the camera or lens in you hands to checkout before you buy. The problem is that you usually have to meet face to face and usually have to use cash or a cashiers check. Any you really don’t know that other person is that you are about to deal with. Sometimes I have met in gas station parking lots. I felt like a drug dealer or something. In addition, there is no auction which means there is no guarantee that you are getting. You can set a high price and have no one buy it. Or you can set a low price and have it sell right away but probably leave money on the table.
Here is an the answer to ‘how to sell your DSLR stuff on the internet”… and its Ebay. I started using ebay many years ago. At first it was just to buy stuff. I found that I never got screwed on a deal….never. Then I experimented with selling stuff, mostly collectibles. It all worked out well. So I moved on to camera stuff. What I found is that I could get at least as much, and sometimes a little more than the used prices that you see on Adorama or B&H. I think the auction drives the price up to a competitive level and sometimes you get lucky with a bidder who has not done his price homework and bids the price beyond competitive prices. I find that happens about 50% of time. The other great advantage is that the buyer has to pay first and you never have to meet face to face. So its very hard for a seller to get screwed on a deal. I have bought or sold about 151 items so far with rating is 100% (no complaints- This is important and I will explain more later). Based on my experience I think I have some helpful advice for those of you who are not familiar with ebay specifically for camera sales.
There is one situation that occurs more than it should. Its not too painful…but it is irritating. Sometimes a newbie bids on your item. I hate newbies (people with less than 5 transactions). Of course we all start that way but they don’t know what they are doing or they are too young or they do not have any financial resources. But what happens sometimes is that they win a item and then you don’t get paid. You don’t lose too much because you have not shipped anything but you do lose out on the cost of the ebay listing ( usually $1-10 depending on the value of the item). You can get credit for that amount to re-list, but ebay makes you wait and wants to see some evidence that you tried to work it out first. So it takes your item off the market for a while.
Ok so how do you do it?
Ebay may have this streamlined by now so all you have to do is work it through them. But my way will work as well. First, set up a paypal account. they will want a credit card and a bank account routing info. They are safe, reliable, and very convenient. I have used them for years as well. And, I have found that it is a really easy way to transfer money around all over the world. So set that up. It took me a few days while they verified the account information and then I was good to go.
Next set up an ebay account. They will want more of your information including your paypal information.
Ok… time to sell.
I would recommend that you start selling and buying some small stuff at first. No one trusts a buyer or seller that has any number next to their name less that about 5. So sell or buy some lens caps or lens wipes or a rocket blower or something. Make sure that you pay promptly on a buy and ship promptly on a sell. You want to get good ratings that is key. No one is going to buy from someone with a low rating. And a low rating is like anything less than 99%. 100% is best.
Ok…. now you have at least a 5 next to your name.
Let’s go sell a lens.
The best price from a used lens, for example, is one that is in perfect condition. New is best….but that will rarely happen unless you bought one and immediately did not want it. So keep good care of your lenses. I am not a believer in uv filters for protection. I think they interfere in some situations. I wrote about that here. But having said that, if you can say in your add that you have had a filter on the lens since you bought it new, this would be a good selling point. If you have any marks on the lens you need to mention that in your ad. If you sell it and do not mention it you can get a bad rating and that will hurt you. Also you will get the best price if you kept your box, packing material, instructions, warranty card, case, or anything that came with the lens. You can also get more money if you had a uv filter or lens hood for this lens.
Now you need to take some pictures. You need one image with the lens and all of the other goodies, then a couple of side shots, a front view of the lens and one of the rear. Spend a good amount of time cleaning the lens as best as you can because you want to take you shots as close to the lens as possible so that your potential customers can see that the lens is in good shape.
The best images are those taken in a soft box with a white background so that the lens is completely isolated. It makes for an eye catching photo. Who doesn’t like a sexy image of a DSLR lens….eh!! I have have also just taken pictures of lenses on my nice wood dining room table. You should do it with good lighting and a tripod. You want the images to be tack sharp.
Its also good to find a few of your best shots where you used that camera or lens and use them as an example of that that equipment can do.
Ok…. now you are ready to list.
What price to do expect to get
Do you want to set a minimum bid, do you want to set starting bid, how about a “buy it now” price. This is what I do. First if you go to the selling page of ebay there is a spot to put in your lens and they will tell you what it has sold for. This is just about useless as they give you a range of prices that is usually too wide.
So here is what you do. Go to Amazon and search for your item. Note the best new and used price. Do the same at Adorama and B&H. Make sure you include shipping costs (you can use the USPS site for that) if required. Now you have a good idea of what people can buy the item for. Next go on ebay and search for your item again. Narrow the search to used items and sort the items by stuff selling soonest. If you look at the “ending soonest” bid price you can get a good idea of what you can get. It will probably sell for @5% higher than that price.
OK….now you have a good idea of what buyers can get at online stores both used and new. And what you probably will get if you sell it on ebay. So the first thing I do is set a Buy Now price. This is a price where an ebay buyer can buy it right away without an auction. That option disappears as soon as anybody bids on it. I set my price just a little under the lowest used price at Adorama, B&H, or Amazon (again make sure you are including their price plus shipping and yours plus shipping). When I say a little I mean some number less than 1%.
Next I set the starting bid price. Based on my experience you want to find a balance between what you could live with if it sold for that low a price, against a delay in bidding if its too high. I don’t have a lot of facts to base this on. Its mainly based on my experience. But the lower the starting bid the sooner you get people bidding on it. A lot of these early bidders will be bargain hunters and they will drop out when the bid gets too high. But some will be buyers that will stick with it and, I believe, they will start to form “expectations of ownership”. I just came up with that 🙂 These are the buyers you want. These are the buyers who will bid higher because they get into the frenzy of “I want this”. I love buyers like that. I have fallen into this trap myself. If you price too high you will not get any bidding until the end and I think the resultant price will be less.
So what do I set. Usually I set a price for about 30-50% of what I think I could get. I have never been screwed by doing that. I almost always get within 5% of what I think I can get. Many times more than my expectations.
You can also set-up a minimum bid. This would protect you. Say you think you can get $1000. So you set a minimum bid of $900. People can bid right away on it at $100, $200, or some other number but the message that they will get is that the minimum bid has not been made. As a buyer….it just pisses me off. When I see an item like that I do not bid on it. Because many times the buyer has an inflated idea of what the item is worth. So you waste a lot of effort bidding on something that it too high priced. So I would not recommend doing this.
Ok…… you have your pictures and your price. You have a paypal account and an ebay account.
Let’s go list
Ebay makes this process pretty easy. On their front page they have a sell link in the upper right. Click on that or the “sell an item” from the drop down. Next hit the List your item button. It will prompt you to login if you have not done so already. Type in the item you are selling. Lets say its the kit lens from canon, a 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS lens. You will see a drop down with that product on it. Click on that. It will auto fill a picture and a description of that lens in the sale form. Nice huh! Now you will note the condition. Most likely it will be used. Fill in the Focus type. For this lens its auto and manual. Technology is digital. Camera type for this lens is SLR (it should be DSLR but they don’t have that). Click the Lens type. Its usually pre-filled but for this one its a wide angle and a zoom. Camera brand. This example is a Canon.
Picture time !
I think that ebay will reformat your pictures, but I have found that if I pre-format my pictures to fit within a 1024 X 1024 space and as jpegs I get adequate photos of good quality. If you don’t know how to do this do not worry….just submit them as is. When you hit the submit pictures button you get a browse button. Use that to find the pictures on your computer and then upload them. Because lenses are so expensive I find that adding lots of images and paying for the Gallery plus and picture pack are worth it. So then you upload it. They will appear on the pictures part of the form. I usually delete the autofill pictures as it does not reflect what my lens is now. Then I use the arrows to put the picture with all of the extras to show first (the box, bag, caps, hood, ect.)
Now lets describe the item
You can do this in standard or HTML. if you know HTML go for it. I will not get into that. So use standard.
What you want to do now is tell them about the item. When did you get it? How did you treat it? What you think about the performance? Did you buy it new or used? Are there any dings, scratches or anything different from the new lens. Why are you selling it? I have found that buyers are still a little nervous buying from someone that they do not know and without a big store name reputation. If you have a good rating that will help a lot. But I also think that being overly honest and open will help the buyer think that he is buying a lens from a responsible, knowledgeable, and honest seller.
I leave the theme alone and use the default counter.
Choose how you’d like to sell your item
I am just going to talk about the Online Auction tab. Put your starting price in and your bid now price. Quantity is normally 1. Now… how many days duration. Again, I have no facts or figures on this just experience. Three days is too short I think to get all the bidders that you want. If you do this because you are in hurry, I would recommend that that you do it on a Wednesday or Thursday so it will end on the Weekend an you will get more bidders then. 7 days is ok but seems long to me. 5 days is just right because you will always capture one weekend day with that.
Decide how you’d like to be paid
You want paypal. Put the email address in that you used for your paypal account and check the immediate payment for buynow.
Give buyers shipping details
My method may be a little more costly for you as the buyer, but I think it helps sell the item and makes shipping easier. What I suggest is that you select, under US shipping, the flat cost to all buyers option. I also select the US priority mail and then I check the box for free shipping. I also check the box that local buyers can pick it up. No one has taken me up on that yet.
A little more about shipping. This is the part that I used to hate the most. I used to go to the garage to get a box. It was usually too large which added to the weight. I would have to get a magic marker out to cover all the commercial labels and op codes. Hand print the address on the box. Go to the post office. Wait in line for 5-30 minutes. Have it weighed and pay.
No more!!! Now I have a collection of free priority mail boxes that I picked up at the post office and also had some delivered for FREE. After I get paid for the item. I log into ebay and select the print label link. I specify what kind of priority box. Note that there are small, medium, and large flat rate boxes. Meaning weight is not costed so it can way 4 oz or 10 lbs and it costs the same. Other boxes say priority but are priced on weight. I have both because occasionally an item will not fit in the flat rate box. If you have a light item it might be less costly to use a non-flat rate box. Anyhow I fill out the ebay shipping form. They work through paypal who has a USPS account. You can add insurance, and tracking, and signature acceptance. I do insurance if the buyer will pay for it. Tracking is free. I do not do signature unless the buyer requests it. Then you can just print out the shipping label….all filled out. So grab a box. Pack your item well. I mostly just use newspaper for packing. Tape it shut. Tape the label on. Drive to you Post office walk in and drop it on the counter….no line waiting….and you leave. USPS will also pick it up from your house but I have not used that.
On Handling time I try to do it in 1 day. If you are really busy you might do 2-3 days. But buyers want their stuff in hurry so I do 1 day.
International shipping – you get more bidders when you do this. And that is good. But shipping goes up a bunch. I usually state that International bidders will have to pay shipping costs. Also there is no easy drop off. You have to fill in export forms and talk to a post office employee. In addition international buyers usually want you to lie about the value and say its a gift rather than an item that they bought. They do that to avoid taxes and tariffs. I don’t like doing this. So I usually say no international shipping.
Other things you’d like buyers to know
Buyer requirements – I use this. They offer you all sorts of options for excluding certain buyers. These are the selections that I have used:
Block buyers who:
- Don’t have a PayPal account
- Have received 2 Unpaid item Strike(s) within 1 month(s)
- Have 4 Policy violation report(s) within 1 month(s)
- Have a feedback score equal to or lower than -1
My return policy is:
And then you get to have Additional checkout instructions. This is what I use:
Please pay withing 3 days of winning this item. Insurance can be added to the cost if you want it. If for some reason you want to return the item the buyer will pay to ship it back to the seller and then the buyers money will be returned. This has to be done within 7 days from the time that the item is received. Please no international bidding unless you email me first to understand that shipping for international will be paid by buyer.
I have the time limit with paypal because I have had those newbies wait like a week or more. With this statement it gives you a little leverage with the buyer and proof to ebay in case there is a problem. Also if they have a problem with the item they need to deal with it in a week. They have to pay to ship it back. And then I will return the money. Here also I am allowing international bidding but letting them know I will not pay for that.
Next you hit the continue button.
There are some more options. I do not use them. You get a chance to see what the listing will look like and to edit it if you like.
You can save the listing as a template. Do that. It will make you listing process easier the next time for a similar item.
Hit the list your item button…..and you are off.
If you remembered something you left out you can always go back to edit it. As the bids come in and it gets closer to the end ebay will begin to limit what you can edit.
I usually log into my “Myebay” link to check the progress and see how many views and watchers that I have. Views don’t mean much but watchers are people who are tracking you listing and will potentially bid on your item.
The next thing that will happen is that you will get questions. What is the serial number, have you ever had it cleaned or calibrated, or whatever. Answer the questions right away and be as honest and forthcoming as you can. I even give some photo advice if i get an indication that I am dealing with a beginner. I think that all helps getting the best price.
Now its sold. What do I do?
Once it it sold you will get a notice from ebay. On that notice will be a link to send the buyer an invoice. They also get one automatically I think. There is space to write a message and you might want to remind the buyer that if he wants insurance he needs to add some money to then invoice or let you know so that you can add it. Then you wait for notice that it has been paid. You will get this from Paypal. If I do not hear from the buyer in 24hrs I usually send another invoice or email reminder. If I do not have payment in 3 days I tell them the deal is off and I am moving on. There is a whole ebay process that guides and directs you to the proper things to do to resolve the issue. I will not cover them here.
So you get a notice from paypal that they have paid. That money is yours now and you are free to send the item. I do it quickly, usually within 24 hrs. I also send and email to the buyer telling them when I dropped it off at the post office and that they should have it in 2-3 business days.
The only other thing to do is to make sure they rate you positively on the sale. Sometimes you may have to write them a asking them to do that.
So that’s it…..now you have money for that next lens or camera.
After I posted this I got some added info to consider. You can buy and sell stuff within photography forums. I have not done that but some people swear by them. A good example is at Fredmiranda.com.
They have a rating system so you can track the reputation of the sellers. Also it looks like they participate in forum discussions so you can get to know the people who are buying and selling stuff. I think its a great way to buy stuff. If you take some of my price suggestions you will have a good idea of a competitive price. But for selling…… I still think an auction is going to drive up the price to the highest amount. Of course they you will not be supporting the forum community by adding more stuff to buy. So there is another option. There are several other forums that also have a buy and sell capability.