The Great Photo Gear Debate (well, not really)

“It’s not the size of the wave, it’s the motion of the ocean.”

…”then again, no one ever crossed the Atlantic in a rowboat.”

Gear is always a prickly subject to photographers.  As soon as you start talking about photography equipment, people start screaming Nikon vs. Canon as loud as they can.  I swear, photographers are worse than car guys in the Bowtie/Blue Oval rivalry.  I’ll get this disclaimer out of the way now: I may reference Canon cameras and Canon compatible lenses, as well as a few other brands in this post.  Not because I think they’re the greatest things on Earth and everything else can go munch those roller hotdogs at gas stations that no one buys, but because that’s what I have and use.  So don’t take my references as anything more than that – references.

Besides, this is more a general thing than specific makes and models.

When you’re doing a shoot, you need to think about what kind of a shoot you’ll be doing and where you’ll be doing it.  Are you going to be photographing a landscape?  If so, what lens do you need?  It is common, in the beginning at least, to bring every lens you have.  This is fine when you only have one or two lenses, but what happens when you buy something like this lens?

Canon 70-200mm f2.8L 2 IS

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS

This thing is almost 3 lbs on its own, which doesn’t sound like much until you consider that a red clay brick weighs between 4-6 lbs, and you’ll be wearing this around your neck for a few hours.  Now, add a Canon 5D Mark III (5DIII), with a weight of 2.1lbs, and you’re now slinging 6 lbs around your neck; there’s your brick.  Believe me, I will personally attest to how bloody heavy it gets after a while.

And what are you going to zoom in on?  This is a real-life Microsoft rolling field you’re shooting; you probably want more of a panorama.  So try this lens, instead.

Canon 16-35mm F2.8L 2 USM

Canon 16-35mm F/2.8L II USM

This one weighs 1.4 lbs and has a much wider field of vision than the first lens does.  Yes, you can stitch together images into panoramas, but many times, you’d rather just take one shot and get it all together the first time.

A week ago, I went to New York (pics to follow next week, once I get the image registration done).  I tried to travel as light as I could.  So, I only took two lenses:

  • Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD
  • Canon 70-200 f/2.8L II IS

I figured that, between the two of them, I’d be fine.  Right?  Well, not quite.  The 70-200 came in handy a few times, but I wouldn’t say enough to make it worth slinging around Manhattan all that time (although it did get some good shots from the top of Rockefeller Center).  It was great for daytime and all, but I made one gross miscalculation – Times Square at night.

Times Square at night is interesting, to say the least.  There were many photo opportunities that I couldn’t cash in on, because I couldn’t open up the aperture enough to get a fast enough shutter speed.  Yes, there are lights all around the Square, but they’re backlights – they don’t often light up your subject.  If I had brought my fantastic plastic (the Canon 50mm f/1.8), I would have been able to score many more photos that I wanted.  So if you’re doing any nighttime city shooting, BRING THE FASTEST LENS YOU HAVE!

Some more street shooting stuff to follow…

One thought on “The Great Photo Gear Debate (well, not really)


    I feel that I owe you all an apology for this post. Like many bloggers, I compose my posts over time, rather than just spitting it out all at once. The point of this is to prevent exactly what happened – verbal diarrhea. Unfortunately, recently there has been a major family medical issue going on that has been occupying my mind. Upon re-reading it, my preoccupation definitely showed; this was not how I wanted this post to turn out. I was tempted to let this sit until next week, but since I didn’t get one out last week (having just gotten back from NY), I owed you one. It wasn’t fair to you for me to put out a substandard post like this, and for that, I am sorry.

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