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March 15, 2007


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Ian Holmes

Hi Seb.

A rather impressive kit list! I'm building mine (extremely slowly) and recently treated myself to an off camera flash solution. The time I spent learning with you inspired me so everytime my bank account takes a hit and Anne complains you get the blame I'm afraid....sorry ;-)

Oh, you don't fancy an enthusiastic assistant for a few months from September do you?

Seb Rogers

Hi Ian,

Good to hear you're enjoying yourself - more important than the state of your bank balance, in my book (uh oh, setting myself up to get even more of the blame...!)

Assistant? If I'm as busy this year as last year, you never know... ;-)

Gareth Bufton

I was wondering why you do not use your SB800 flashes in the wireless mode as you use the D2x as your prime camera. I have used up to 3 SB800s all controlled from the master gun on the D2x to great effect over considerable distances on occasions. Great blog and as ever stunning images.

Seb Rogers

Hi Gareth,

You should find the answers in the post 'remote flash: the Nikon conundrum' (a few posts below this one)... :) The Nikon wireless system is clever, but doesn't work through trees, isn't reliable in bright sunlight and introduces extra shutter lag unless you pre-lock every flash exposure. It's just quicker and easier to use radio, I find.

Glennon Simmons

Hi Seb,

Great blog! I'm interested in shooting mountain bike events and backpacking trips as the primary subject matter of my photography. I'm migrating from a point-and-shoot camera to a Canon SLR system, and I’m trying to make logical lens choices based on many factors: quality, versatility, budget, etc. I’ve decided to stick with zooms for maximum versatility (at least for now), and I’m currently agonizing about what focal length range to get first. The two lenses I’m considering are the 24-70mm L f/2.8 and the 70 – 200mm L f/2.8 IS from Canon. Right now I’m mainly shooting bike races using kit lenses, which I’m eager to get away from. Because I have a space of time that will elapse before I can make the second purchase, the initial purchase is going to be critical. Would you give me some advice here? I’ve reasoned that I might not need such a large heavy telephoto zoom lens for mountain bike races because I can stand right at the side of the trail when the racers cruise by. But if I choose the wider zoom, it might not prove as versatile for this type of photography. Also, prior to reading your blog, I’d conceded that I was going to have to lug around a heavy piece of glass if I wanted to get serious about photography. You seem to value mobility at the expense of sharpness to some degree. When does weight saving override quality requirements? Most pros seem to push quality and sharpness over any other factor, but I understand that if you can’t get to the shot, it doesn’t matter anyway!

Thanks for any advice,


Seb Rogers

Hi Glen,

All gear choices involve some degree of compromise. Portability is important to me because I've always ridden with my camera gear, so shaving grammes makes a big difference to how I'm feeling during and after a day's shoot (and the way I'm feeling influences how well I'm shooting).

Don't get the idea that I'm happy to sacrifice sharpness, though. I'm not. Technical quality is one thing (not by any means the only thing, but an important factor nonetheless) that separates great photography from just ok photography. Comments I've made about the relative sharpness of different lenses refer to the absolute (subjective, since I don't actually quantify the differences) quality of the results.

Given the choice between, say, my 80-200mm f/2.8 and 50-150mm f/2.8 in a low-light situation that demanded shooting wide open, I'd choose the first lens. But the 50-150 is perfectly useable wide open, and I've got the (published) cover shots to prove it.

It sounds like you'll be shooting on foot, mostly, in which case size and weight might not be such a big issue for you. The 70-200 will give you a more useful range for race photography, I would have thought. I'd also query the usefulness of the 24-70 unless you're shooting full frame (doesn't sound like you are). On an APS-C Canon that lens translates to 38-112mm (FF equiv.), which gives you neither a useful wide nor a useful tele. And it duplicates some of the range currently covered by your kit lens.

If your funds are limited I think you'll get better mileage from two slower and / or independent and / or secondhand lenses rather than one (admittedly excellent) fast L lens. How about the f/4 instead of the f/2.8? Saving a bit of money on the long lens could free up enough cash for a wide lens, leaving your existing kit lens to plug the mid-range gap. For wides you'll probably have to look to indpendents (Sigma seem to be pretty good), since Canon's offerings in this area aren't great.

Hope this helps...

Glennon Simmons

It does help. Thanks so much!

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