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Forbes Belk
(ForbesB) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Camera System Upgrade Suggestions on 06/08/2011 15:34:40 MDT Print View

I've been using an S95 ever since it was released last year, and enjoying the heck out of it. I've recently been playing around with a friend's Canon DSLR. I enjoy having all the options this entails.

Long story short, my switch to UL backpacking last year combined with this growing enjoyment of photography has made me rethink my aversion to carrying a heavy DSLR into the woods.

Now's where I could use some help from the regulars here. I'm familiar with Canon's current line, but that's about it. My friends who are photographers also use Canon and have little to no backpacking experience so are of little help.

I'm looking at (not all at once but purchased probably by the end of the year):
Canon T2i (T3i seems to be the same with an articulated LCD, extra weight, and a slightly higher price)
50mm f/1.4
24-105mm f/4L
Decent Polarizing Filter
Lightweight Tripod of some sort

I'm looking for thoughts on this plan. In particular, how do you feel about the weight, feasibility, and other options on the Camera and Lenses? I'm intrigued by the Sony NEX series, but the lens choices seem to be lacking at best.

Edited by ForbesB on 06/08/2011 15:36:11 MDT.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Camera System Upgrade Suggestions on 06/08/2011 15:58:12 MDT Print View

Oh boy, this is a big jump (high quality compact to system camera and lenses). Since you're starting from scratch you have an advantage over those already invested in this or that format/company--a plus.

The mirrorless systems (there are three) mean you don't have to lug a dslr and lenses. As you point out you give up the vast slr AF lens selection and considerable focusing speed. You also give up an optical viewfinder. But you also shed a good deal of weight and bulk.

If you're not averse to manual focus primes you can adapt an infinite number of legacy lenses to the mirrorless bodies, including rangefinder lenses that cannot physically mount to an slr. This is one of the biggest attractions they have going for them.

I'd slice it like this: for landscapes and video--go mirrorless. For wildlife and super-telephoto--go dslr. As to which brand, consider what lenses you desire and also compare how they fit your hands and how you like or loathe their controls. When I was shopping I was startled at how strongly I liked or loathed certain cameras, especially when I ignored the name on the front.

Happy shopping,

Rick

Edited by halfturbo on 06/08/2011 15:58:44 MDT.

Will Webster
(WillWeb) - M
Re: Camera System Upgrade Suggestions on 06/08/2011 16:08:08 MDT Print View

The 24-105/4L is a great lens on a full-frame body, but on crop body such as you're considering it's equivalent to a 38-170. I don't think that's nearly wide enough. I carry a Tamron 17-50/2.8 (28-80 equivalent), which has excellent optics while being lighter, smaller, and cheaper than the Canon equivalent.

Edited by WillWeb on 06/08/2011 16:08:46 MDT.

Forbes Belk
(ForbesB) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Re: Re: Camera System Upgrade Suggestions on 06/08/2011 17:15:19 MDT Print View

Rick:
You're absolutely right on both major points.

1) I've got a wide range of options since I have no previously owned lenses etc weighing on my decision. Granted right now that seems like more a pain in the ass as I'm being overwhelmed by information.

2) I really do need to go check some of these out in person, just hoping I can narrow down the decision-making process some before I hit the retail stores. Part of this is I need to get some experience messing with manual focusing. It's one aspect of using cameras in manual I haven't really used at all. Not sure if it's an approach I want to mess with or not.


Will:
Thanks for the reminder on the crop factor. I let that slip my mind. You're right that 38-170 cuts out a bit too much of the wide-angle portion for my uses.

Here's a question I've never really grasped: On the standard "EF" lenses I understand the crop factor of ~1.6 on APS-C body cameras, but do the "EF-S" digital-only lenses already take this into account in their stated range or do they too need to be multiplied by 1.6?

For instance:
EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM Canon lens on a T2i. Is this still 17-55 because it's digital only or does it need to be altered for the crop to 27-88?

EDIT: Just did what I should have done before and looked it up on Wikipedia. Crop Factor is still in effect which really cuts down on the confusion.

Edited by ForbesB on 06/08/2011 17:38:29 MDT.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
Olympus m4/3 on 06/08/2011 21:37:26 MDT Print View

If I were legacy-free and looking for a fairweather hiking camera I would go with the Olympus E-PL2 kit. I would choose it over the Pany or Sony mirrorless models simply because of the VF-2 viewfinder option, its in-camera image stabilization and lens adapters gives it a significant advantage over its competitors. Finally, unlike the Pany it gives superb out of the camera jpgs. No one else does blue color like Olympus! Sky and water backgrounds are gorgeous.

If I were going into more inclement weather or winter mountaineering I would choose the Pentax K-5 kit. One really should have a weather sealed pro body and there is none smaller or lighter. IQ is the best among all APS-C sensor cameras too.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Camera System Upgrade Suggestions on 06/09/2011 12:14:44 MDT Print View

I have Canon cameras and do a fair amount of backpacking. The replies you've received are very good.

The T2i is fine -- good image quality in a basic camera package. The 24-105 is an excellent lens, but probably not as a single lens on that camera. The 17-55 is also excellent, and provides a reasonable focal range, but you probably don't need the extra weight of an f/2.8 lens for landscape photography. I'd recommend taking a look at the new 15-85 lens. It's an EF-S lens made for the "crop" cameras, and has what I consider an ideal focal length range for a carry-around lens. It's also built very well -- much better than the older 17-85. It does have a variable aperture that's not very fast, but for landscape this is much less of a concern.

I'd also recommend looking at the 60D camera. For less than $1000 it's an excellent performer, with what I think is a better user interface than any of the Rebel series. Don't be put off by the tilt-and-swivel LCD monitor -- you may find it very useful when the camera is on a tripod, especially at lower angles. Using the Live View for composing and focusing on a tripod works very well, and the tilt/swivel LCD makes it even better. You'll get much more accurate focusing with Live View and the zoom function than most AF systems can provide. (I wish my big Canons had the t/s LCD. I do a lot of architectural photography on a tripod.)

Finally, do take a look at the Panasonic Micro 4/3 cameras. We have two of them, a G1 and a GF1, and I'm thinking hard about adding the brand new G3 body. These are fully featured SLR cameras with large sensors (much larger than p+s cameras, not quite the size of the sensor in the Rebel.) They have eliminated the mirror and replaced it with an excellent electronic viewfinder. Autofocus on the Panny m4/3 cameras is very good -- quick and accurate -- and of course the whole system is "live view" all the time, making careful framing and focus on a tripod quite simple. The major advantage of the m4/3 is the size and weight of the equipment -- with the standard 14-45 zoom, the G1 is half the size and weight of my Canon 40D with the 17-55. This makes a big difference when hiking or traveling, and we've almost completely switched to the m4/3 system for those pursuits. Panasonic also makes several excellent prime lenses, including the 20mm f/1.7 lens which is a wonderful all-purpose carry around wide-normal lens.