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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 7:06 pm 
Hiya, I hope I'm posting this in the right place!

So, I'm a designer by trade and one of my clients is a small (very small) development charity operating in Uganda. One of my bigest bug-bears has always been that they simply don't have anything approaching 'decent photography' for me to work with. They've got plenty of imagery which I'd refer to as 'documentary photography' at best and 'predictable holiday snaps' at worst, but if you're looking for anything that can be used in marketing material, PR or fund-raising; there's very little to work with.

Anyway, I'm a passionate amateur photographer - it's kind of a parallel discipline to my professional one, and it's always been something I've enjoyed - so I offered to go out with one of their development trips, and take the photographs I've been yearning for myself. So to cut a long story short, I'm going to Kampala for two weeks at the end of January to do just that.

The thing I'm really conscious of, is that I'll be in environments where I've little or no experience shooting in. I've been out with this charity to the same part of Africa before so I know what it's like out there, and the light ranges from brilliant equatorial sun-shine, to super low-light in-doors with few house-holds having electricity; incredible vista's on the banks of Lake Victoria; subject ranging from fairly close-cropped portraiture, through group shots in cramped homes where 8 people share a space smaller than the area you'd park a car in along-side landscape work; lots of dust, frequent monsoon-esqu rain showers...

So I'm looking to rent a few odds and ends to augment my kit. But given my lack of experience with this kind of on location shooting, I'm interested in hearing any insights that people might have into the kinds of lenses I might find useful, and indeed - what I might think about in terms of a primary body to use.

My current set up is as follows...
Primary body: Canon 50D
Backup body: Canon 400D

EF 70-200mm f/4L USM
EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM

Speedlite 430EX II Flash

...so, I'm conscious that I'm deficient in a few areas, well, two really, low light and wide angle, plus I wanted to take along a quality prime lens too. With that in mind, I'm currently looking at hiring the following...
EF 50mm f1.2L USM
EF 16-35mm f2.8L II USM

As far as bodies go, I'm also conscious that as awesome as I'm finding the 50D, I've the budget to hire something in the region of a 5D MkI/II (when the latter arrives), and was wandering whether I'd see a significant benefit from doing so, given the kinds of shots I'm looking to take... it's also at the back of my mind that it's going to be a while before this charity is able to do anything like this again, and therefore I need to achieve the best possible results given the circumstances, giving them a photographic resource that will last them the next 5 years or so.

Concerns I have with relegating my 50D to backup and bringing in a 5D MkII specifically as my primary, largely focus around needing to pick up extra batteries if I go for the MkII (the 5D MkI mounts the same batteries as the 50D - so no problem there as I've already got 3 of those), and the phat 21MP files sucking up the collective 19GB of Flash cards I've got - though I was going to pick up another 8GB card anyway. I'll be dumping each day's shooting onto a laptop on a nightly basis, so short-term storage capacity is all I'm really concerned with here.

So my questions are as follows...

A: Given the lenses I already own, and baring in mind the places I'm going to be shooting, are the two lenses I've ear-marked for hiring going to give me the range of flexibility I need (given that I'll be walking this lot around Africa with me), and if not, what would you recommend. And...

B: Is it worth me hiring a 5D Mk* for the job and if so, which should I opt for; MkI or MkII?

I'd be really grateful of any and all advice you collectively have to offer, so thanks in advance!


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 9:39 pm 
I think it would indeed be beneficial for you to hire a 5d Mk II, since on a 50D you will still lack the "very wide angle" lens while on a 5d the 16-35mm will get very very wide and great for landscapes.

not quite sure if you'll really need the 50mm f/1.2L though, it's only mariginal better than the f/1.4 but significantly heavier. (dont get me wrong though, it is said to be a great lens!)

I think if you get those 2 additional lenses and a 5D mk II you're very well prepared - the 24-105mm as your standard lens and the others for special occasions (i.e. very wide landscapes, portraits, animals). also with your 50D as a backup you'll be able to use the benefit of the focal length increase by 1.6x of your 70-200mm, which is great

the only downside I see is you will be packing yourself with quite some weight ;)


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 10:16 am 
Ha, yeh, weight is definitely something I've got at the back of my mind. I think I'm going to pick up a Lowepro Slingshot 250 or 300 on recommendation from a friend of mine. With any luck, that should give me relatively fast access to my kit in an easily carryable bundle.

Thanks for the input, I'll definitely look into the 50mm f1.4, I'm entirly open to suggestion...


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 5:18 pm 
Hi Plumb_Lunatic,

May I first offer you a warm welcome to the forum!

This sure sounds like a very exciting trip and photo-opportunity you have lined up there!

I've been to Africa on one occasion before and have a little bit of a feel of the conditions you speak of.

In your shoes, I would probably drop one of the lenses is favor of another flash for those early dark evenings where your photography is done in dimly lit conditions.

There are a few reasons for that:

1) From a pure marketing-perspective, it's not the beautiful landscapes and vistas that evoke donation, but more the "human interest" type of imagery. To me, this suggests that you might benefit from focusing as much, if not more, on people-pics in their everyday surroundings, than the beautiful landscapes.

2) Two flashes allow for some more creative lighting set-up for either intense portraiture or even larger group shots.

Another consideration:
If you switch to a full-frame for your primary body and keep a cropped as a back-up, you might corner yourself with regards to lenses? (I'm not intimately familiar with Canon's lens-mounts)

I wish you good luck with your equipment-picking! I could see myself belaboring that question for weeks and weeks if I were in your shoes :-)

Cheers!


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 5:57 pm 
LahLahSr wrote:
Hi Plumb_Lunatic,
Another consideration:
If you switch to a full-frame for your primary body and keep a cropped as a back-up, you might corner yourself with regards to lenses? (I'm not intimately familiar with Canon's lens-mounts)


you can mount any canon lens on any canon camera, so unless you break the 5D mk II, I don't see any problems with that, on the contrary the 1.5* focal length "increase" is great for tele shots with the 70-200mm.

you've got a point with your flash idea there though :)

one word on the slingshot: I think for long travelling it's not that great. why? because you cant wear it over your left shoulder but only on your right - carrying a gear this heavy will be quite painful on a single shoulder and no chance to shift the weight on the other one for an hour or so..

I therefor think you'll be better off with a "normal" photo bag, which may be a bit more uncomfortable to wear the first 30mins or so, but you'll value the possibilitie to wear it diffrently. The most comfortable way would probably be a backpack - with a loss of accessability of course.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 7:09 pm 
Hi Nostrum, i am just going to correct you, as you said that you can mount any Canon lense on any Canon body, this does not really apply here, but you can only mount EF lenses on a FF body, not EF-S, but on a CF Body you can mount both EF and EF-S!
Cheers


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 7:22 pm 
As you mentioned rained etc, have you considered any weather sealed lenses + body? So you can actually walk about with the camera and dont have to worry about the gear breaking down?

I m pretty a know nothing when it comes to Canon, so i dont know what models + lenses are weather sealed, this might be something to consider because you will be working under such conditions....plus the dust


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 8:06 pm 
LahLahSr wrote:
In your shoes, I would probably drop one of the lenses is favor of another flash for those early dark evenings where your photography is done in dimly lit conditions.


Hiya, and thanks for the welcome!

That's actually an angle I'd not considered. One of the things I need to do is experiment more with flash-photography, so the idea of taking multiple flash guns hasn't really occurred to me.

And you're absolutely spot on with your first 'reason'. It's actually a conversation I've had with the client. My landscape angel was more a case of knowing how spectacular the geography can be out there, and not wanting to caught short on the equipment front. My primary focus will be on capturing the people out there. If I happen to be able to do a little self-indulgent landscape work while I'm out there; well it's a bonus!

Right, so, think about taking an extra flash-gun: check

LahLahSr wrote:
Another consideration:
If you switch to a full-frame for your primary body and keep a cropped as a back-up, you might corner yourself with regards to lenses? (I'm not intimately familiar with Canon's lens-mounts)


Yeh, there's not any problem here. As has been pointed out, it's only an issue if I'm taking EF-S lenses which would work with the 50D but not the 5D. The EF lenses will mount to both.

Nostrum wrote:
one word on the slingshot-


That's a good point. I was considering the Slingshot simply because of it's uber-ease of access. I'll have a couple of guys with my, mostly because I don't speak Luganda, but security is another concern. So I figured the easier it is for me to slip the camera back into the bag - not having it on display, the better. That said, I'm likely to be going places where I'll be one of the first white people the population will have met. A large SLR hung around my neck isn't going to add much to my conspicuousness!

Comfort is definitely something I need to thing more on. I've a Boblbee Megalopolis I'd considered taking - it should just about carry everything I need, but it's a pain in the buttocks to get things in and out of quickly. On the plus side it is stupidly comfortable to wear, even when fully loaded. So I guess it's a trade-off...

alex168 wrote:
As you mentioned rained etc, have you considered any weather sealed lenses + body? So you can actually walk about with the camera and dont have to worry about the gear breaking down?

I m pretty a know nothing when it comes to Canon, so i dont know what models + lenses are weather sealed, this might be something to consider because you will be working under such conditions....plus the dust


Yeh, weather and dust are important considerations, they are the other main reasons I was looking at the Sidewinder. If a sudden down-poor happens, it's simple to get the equipment back in the bag, even if I'm still wearing it.

As is though, all Canon's higher end kit is 'environmentally sealed', including their L-series lenses. With the kit I'm looking at, it's still an issue, but not as critical as could otherwise be the case.

thanks everyone for the input - I'm still interested in hearing more thoughts. Things like lens options I may not have considered etc... Please keep'em coming!


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 9:57 pm 
podgeorge wrote:
Hi Nostrum, i am just going to correct you, as you said that you can mount any Canon lense on any Canon body, this does not really apply here, but you can only mount EF lenses on a FF body, not EF-S, but on a CF Body you can mount both EF and EF-S!
Cheers


ah that's right of course, but it's not gonna be an issue since he's only going for EF lenses anyway :)


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 10:42 pm 
Yeh!


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