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Would you like to write about dSLR cameras/ photography and help contribute to this blog? I am looking for someone to help me out with writing articles / blog posts for this blog, Picturing Change, about the latest dSLR cameras and accessories. This blog reaches a wide, always-growing audience of dSLR photography enthusiasts, and this could give you an opportunity to share your knowledge and enthusiasm, further hone your writing skills, and develop a “portfolio” of written work. Not only that, but I’ll pay you for each post!

Please read through the following requirements/ desires and see if you would like to be considered.

What I’m Looking For:

  • Contribute regular blog posts, perhaps 3 to 5 per month.
  • Typical posts would be about the latest Canon and Nikon dSLR cameras and accessories, similar to several of my posts on this blog, including:

-Comparing the latest cameras (and how one would choose the right one for their needs)
-Previewing then Hands-on with the latest cameras
-“Top Ten” features of the latest cameras
-How to use a specific feature (GPS, Wi-Fi, AF system, etc)

You can look through this blog to see the typical kinds of posts I write, such as these here:
http://blog.dojoklo.com/canon-dslr-cameras/

  • The posts would need to have some relevant images (images and details of the camera body and/ or sample images taken with the camera).
  • Thus you would likely need to develop a friendly relationship with a local camera store so that you can have access to the latest models.
  • You will be credited as the author and photographer (or perhaps co-credited if I help contribute), but the text and images would have to be exclusive to my blog as far as Internet use, at least for a pre-determined time frame (Google doesn’t like seeing the same content on different sites).  The articles and images will need to remain on this blog indefinitely. You retain all other rights to your writing and images. (You don’t need to contribute your portfolio images here, just informative, nice shots of/ with the cameras!)
  • I will be including links to my dSLR e-book guides and Amazon affiliate links within the posts.
  • While I would like to maintain a consistent “style” for my blog’s writing, your personal “voice” is welcome. What I am looking for is clear, concise, helpful writing in a somewhat “familiar,” friendly, and knowledgeable voice.
  • The goal of the posts is not only to discuss the latest cameras and their features, but also to apply them info to real-world enthusiast photographers – ie: explain the differences and why a feature or option would or wouldn’t be needed by a photographer, in real-world use.
  • The audience is enthusiast photographers trying to decide which dSLR model fits their needs, and dSLR owners looking to learn how to better use their equipment.

Other Requirements:

  • Be extremely knowledgeable about the latest Canon and Nikon dSLR cameras, and hopefully knowledgeable about previous cameras in order to better explain how the new ones are different / improved from the previous model.
  • Have access to the latest dSLR cameras as soon as they are available.
  • Excellent writing, grammar, and proofreading skills.
  • Technical knowledge and fact-checking to ensure camera specs and info are always correct.
  • I have very high standards, as I wish to maintain the quality and reputation of my blog and related writing! Since I want to work with one or two people for an extended period, I am going to be picky!
  • If you are a “Canon person” or a “Nikon person” and feel comfortable with just your brand, let me know, and perhaps I can find different contributors for each brand.

Payment:

You would be paid per post, as a freelance consultant.  Payments would be reported for my tax purposes.  Any taxes due on your income would be your responsibility. No employment or benefits are offered.

Please let me know what your desired rate is.  I have a range in mind, but I want to make sure I am in line with expectations. (Don’t worry, if you propose lower than what I have in mind, I will adhere to my initial range.)

Application:

If you are interested, please let me know via email:

doug (at) dojoklo (dot) com

Fill me in on your relevant background and experience, and be prepared to provide samples of applicable writing or links to existing articles/ posts, and a link to your photo website.

Thanks! I look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

Introducing the Canon 6D Full Frame dSLR Camera

First, I have been corrected – the Sony a850 was the first “affordable” full frame (meaning ~$2000 price at introduction), followed by the Nikon D600, then the Canon 6D. But as I unfortunately only have time in my work day to mostly follow, research, and write about Canon and Nikon news and dSLR cameras, this one slipped by me.

Just as I have been digesting the specs and features of the new Nikon D600 full frame dSLR, Canon quickly follows on their heels with their version of a “pro-sumer” full frame camera, the Canon EOS 6D.  The big deal about these two cameras – and indeed they are a big deal – is that they are the first full frame cameras priced at around $2000 at first release.  In fact they are each priced at just under $2100.  dSLR cameras with full frame sized sensors (sensors about the size of a frame of 35mm film – remember film?) have typically cost several hundred, if not $1000 more than this when first introduced. The Canon 5D, though also referred to as “affordable” at the time, was around $3300 when introduced as a professional camera. The Canon 5D Mark II was about $2700 at introduction, and the Nikon D700 and D800 were each about $3000.  The latest Canon full frame, the 5D Mark III is around $3400, but Canon knew they would be coming out with the 6D to fill in the price point vacated by the 5D Mark II.

Canon EOS 6D full frame dslr review
Canon EOS 6D

Previously, the compromise in order to put a high-quality, fully featured camera into enthusiasts’ and semi-pros’ hands was a smaller sensor – the APS-C sized sensor which is about 64% of the size of a full frame sensor.  Nikon calls the smaller size the DX and the full frame the FX format, while Canon really doesn’t have a special name for either that I can recall. But larger sensors have always been prized for several reasons.  They typically deliver better performance in terms of improved resolution, increased dynamic range, and improved low light / high ISO performance.  In other words, the images have much better detail and can withstand serious cropping, display a fuller range of colors and tones, and are cleaner with less digital noise, especially in low light situations.  The full frame sensor will also affect the field of view of your lenses. For those moving from an APS-C sized sensor camera to a full frame body, a 50mm lens will now act as a true 50mm lens – no more 1.6x crop factor to consider. This means that your wide angle lenses will now act as true wide angle lenses, but your telephoto lenses will no longer have quite as much reach as you may be used to.

I have long warned that Canon users should carefully consider buying EF-S lenses that are only compatible with APS-C Canon dSLRs, and my reasoning was that one day you would either want to upgrade to a full frame 5D that does not accept AF-S lenses, and/ or eventually full frame bodies would become more affordable.  Well, that day is today!  The 6D is the “affordable” full frame camera, and indeed it does not accept EF-S lenses, only EF lenses.

For those who can’t or don’t wish to spend $3400 on the 5D Mark III yet still want the full frame experience, the 6D is now a reasonable option.  The 5D Mk II of course is currently under $2000, but it really isn’t very desirable anymore with its relatively slow and outdated 9 point autofocus system and relatively slow 3.9 frames per second continuous shooting speed.  Not to mention the wide variety of feature, HD video improvements, and in-camera processing features that have been added to more recent models.  However, based on its controls, autofocus system, and other features (whether included or left out), the 6D can be considered a full frame version of the 60D, and thus sits firmly in the enthusiast range rather than the professional range. Again, some compromises were made in order to offer a well-featured full-frame camera at an enthusiast photographer price point.  But its full frame coupled with its smaller, lighter body (more like an APS-C camera body) will make it a great option for everyday and travel use.

Canon 6D EOS book manual dummies field guide instruction tutorial how to use learn full frame autofocus system

Brief Commercial Interruption: I have written an e-book camera guide to the Canon 6D, Canon 6D Experience, now available. Click the link or book cover to learn more, preview, or purchase this guide (as well as all my other e-book camera guides for Nikon and Canon dSLR cameras).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canon EOS 6D full frame dslr review
Canon EOS 6D

Here are some of the specs of the Canon 6D, and more importantly what they mean. After reading about what the camera offers, be sure to also read my Canon 6D Hands On Reveiw:

Sensor: The 6D sits between the 7D and the 5DIII in terms of resolution, with 20.2MP compared to the 18MP of the 7D, 21MP of the 5DII, and 22.3MP of the 5DIII. As mentioned above, a full-frame size sensor promises not only improved image quality but also increased dynamic range and improved low light / high ISO performance (100-25,600 max. ISO expandable up to 102,400). Have a look just below and at my images here to see some example images of the performance of the 5DIII at various ISO settings.  The 6D may not be quite as excellent, but it should be very close (edit: my informal ISO tests of the 6D can now be seen below and here.  And as noted above, the full-frame sensor will also affect the field of view of your lenses. Your wide angle lenses will now act as true wide angle lenses, but your telephoto lenses will no longer have quite as much reach as you may be used to.

Canon 6D high iso noise digital camera slr pixel test compare preview
Example image of the Canon 6D ISO performance and digital noise. Image by the Author – click on the image to view larger.

A full frame sensor also affects your depth of field…indirectly.  This is because depth of field is affected by not only your aperture setting but also the camera-to-subject distance.  So say that you were to use the full frame 6D to frame a shot with a 50mm focal length and f/2.0 aperture, from 10 feet away.  To “recreate” this same shot with the APS-C sensor-sized 7D and a 50mm focal length, you would have to back up several feet (6 more feet I believe?) to have the same field of view.  (The full frame sensor will capture a wider field of view, while the APS-C “crops” the scene due to its smaller size.)  Even though you use the same f/2.0 aperture setting, the depth of field is not as dramatically shallow because the camera-to-subject distance has increased.  The depth of field in this case changes from less than a foot to over 2 feet.  (I may be wrong about backing up from 10 feet to 16 feet for this example, which means my final numbers are off, but none-the-less, the dof increases as you move back.)  So…indirectly…a full frame camera can contribute to more dramatic depth of field.

Processor: The 6D incorporates a single speedy Digic 5+ processor – the latest processor that is also included in the 5DIII (there as one of two processors). This allows you to take more continuous photos at the maximum frame rate, as well as to keep up a fast rate as the camera applies optional in-camera processing to the images, such as lens aberration corrections.  The speedy processor also allows for the in-camera HDR and Multiple Exposure features.

Viewfinder: The 6D also has a nice big and bright 97% view viewfinder, not as awesome as a 100% viewfinder would have been to be able to frame the entire scene to be captured, but excellent none-the-less.  Unfortunately, there is not an electronic grid included in the viewfinder view as there is with the 7D.  In order to get a grid, you will have to make use of the optional Eg-D matte focusing screen.  You can see a simulated view of the viewfinder below the Autofocus section.

Autofocus (AF) System / FPS: The Canon 6D has a new 11 point autofocus system with only the center point as a more accurate cross-type point.  Not quite the 19 AF point system of the 7D as one might have expected, and also significantly lower than the 61 AF point system of the 5DIII.  In terms of number of focus points, it is a minor improvement to the 5DII.  However, I am sure that it is a system that will react and perform significantly faster (even despite only one cross-type point) as well as offer numerous customization options. This AF system, along with its 4.5 frame per second (fps) continuous shooting speed, indicates that the 6D is not intended to be a sports and action camera, but rather a camera geared towards standard photography, weddings, portraits, travel, etc.

Canon 6D EOS autofocus AF viewfinder 11 points compare choose dummies guide book digital dslr
Simulated view of the Canon 6D viewfinder, showing the Spot Metering circle and the 11 autofocus AF Points

Body, Size, Battery, Memory Cards:  Regarding size and weight, the 6D is nearly the same size and weight as the 7D – in fact it is not quite as wide and as deep as the 7D, stands at the same height, and weights a little less.  Overall it is 145 x 111 x 71 mm, weighing 770g (with the battery) compared to the 860g of the 7D.  The 6D accepts the same excellent LP-E6 battery as the 7D and 5DIII, as well as SD memory cards (single card slot).  The body is constructed primarily of magnesium alloy, is weather sealed against dust and moisture, and should prove to be quite durable for any everyday-type use plus more rugged situations.  It boasts a 3″ LCD screen – fixed not articulating – with 102,400 pixels, making it large, clear, and sharp – but not a touch screen as originally speculated.

Interface and Controls: The controls on the body of the 6D closely resemble those of the EOS 60D, with a few changes.  The Multi-Controller pad is used for autofocus AF point control rather than the thumb joystick of the 5D cameras, the top row of buttons control one function only, and the Mode Dial has the handy center locking button.  The power switch has been moved to the typical current location for Canon dSLRs – at the Mode Dial.  The row of buttons on the rear left side, common on most Canon dSLRs without a rotating screen, has been pared down and moved to the right of the screen.  Rather than the zoom-in and zoom-out buttons, there is a single Magnify button that was first found on the 5DIII and initially drove users crazy due to the muscle memory of their thumbs that had to be retrained.  The exposure lock and focus lock buttons remain, thus allowing for back-button focusing and easily separating focus and exposure functions.

Canon EOS 6D full frame dslr review
Canon EOS 6D

New Features: The 6D is the first Canon camera to offer built-in wireless and built-in GPS capability.  The Wi-Fi feature will allow photographers to do some great wireless stuff, including cable-free “tethered” shooting and camera control using EOS Utility and a computer, easily sharing images on Facebook and other social networks straight from the camera, controlling the camera (in Live View) from a smartphone or tablet – including focusing and changing some settings, using the smart device to view and transfer images that are on the camera’s memory card, and Wi-Fi connection to a TV or printer.  And the GPS will allow geotagging of images with the coordinates, altitude, and orientation, and mapping the route of the camera.

Accessories: Of course there will be a battery grip for the 6D, the BG-E13, for the use of two LP-E6 batteries for longer shooting.  The larger body size created by the grip is also more comfortable for some, especially when shooting often in the portrait orientation and/ or when using larger, heavier lenses.  There are also a couple optional focusing screens that are compatible, the Eg-D and Eg-S matte focusing screens which make manual focusing eaiser.  The Eg-D offers a grid as well for assistance with compositions and keeping the framing straight.  This means that there is no electronic grid built into the viewfinder, as with the 7D.

The typical remote shutter releases are certain to be compatible, such as the Canon Remote Switch RS-80N3 or Canon Wireless Remote Control RC-1 or RC-5 or RC-6.  These remotes will allow either self-portraits or the ability to release the shutter without pressing the Shutter Button thus preventing possible camera shake. There is also the Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3 for time-lapse or long exposure photography.

Flash: Similar to the 5D line of cameras, the 6D does not include a built-in flash, though it is fully compatible with all the Canon Speedlite flashes such as the new Canon 600EX-RT as well as the older but still highly capable 580EX II.  It will certainly be compatible with the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT radio wave wireless transmitter, which can control and trigger up to 5 groups of 15 flashes, up to 30 meters, with no line-of-site required. (Currently only compatible with the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite.)

HD Video: And of course the 6D offers full HD video with manual control and all the usual frame rates (1080p at 30/25/24 fps and 720p at 60/50 fps plus 480p at 25/30 fps. The new sensor is not capable of full time autofocus, though most dedicated videographers still prefer manually focusing anyway. The camera records mono audio but is compatible with optional stereo mics, and unfortunately lacks a headphone jack for audio monitoring.

Bracketing: The offers 3, 2, 5, or 7 frame Auto Exposure Bracketing, which will please HDR shooter. There is also a built-in “HDR mode” which combines and processes three automatically bracketed images in-camera, and a Multiple Exposure mode that can “overlay” and process up to 9 images in-camera. And there are a couple more multi-shop options where the camera takes a few shots in a row and then combines them for a better final result, such as the multi-shot noise reduction option, and the hand-held night scene.

Of course the 6D offers the usual 63-Zone dual layer exposure metering system for consistent, accurate exposures in all types of situations including challenging scenes like back-lit ones.  It has the usual Canon Metering Modes and Drive Modes as well as the familiar Picture Style settings and in-camera image processing and filter/ art effects as found in the 7D, 60D, and 5D Mk III.

Conclusions:  Just as with the new Nikon D600 full frame camera, I expect the Canon EOS 6D to be an extremely popular camera, offering an affordable full-frame dSLR for dedicated enthusiasts, aspiring pros/ semi-pros, or a highly competent second body for semi-pros and pros on a budget. There is nothing lacking in this camera that would prevent any photographer from capturing the highest quality, professional level images in most every shooting situation, be it general photography, portraits, street photography, studio work, wedding photography or travel use.  Its pairing with the professional 24-105mm f/4L lens is an indication of its exceptional image quality capabilities.  Plus it offers the ability, although somewhat limited by its autofocus system and maximum continuous frame rate, to capture sports, wildlife, and other action type situations.

The 6D may not be the “fully featured budget pro-sumer full frame dSLR” that many had hoped for, however.  Its 11 point AF system with only one cross-type point is clearly on the consumer/ enthusiast level, as are its external controls such as the thumb pad Multi-Controller and the single function top buttons.  Its inclusion of the Scene Modes on the Mode Dial also indicates that it is targeted to enthusiasts, as well as its single SD memory card slot.  But these are the types of compromises that had to be made to keep the price within reach of more enthusiast photographers while still offering full frame image quality.  As Canon says in their 6D press release, “the EOS 6D bridges the gap for budget-minded photographers, videographers and cinematographers who are eager to step up into the world of full-frame imaging.”

Be sure to also read my subsequent Canon 6D Hands On Reveiw, written after the camera became available.

As I work on a comparison post of the current Canon dSLR line-up, have a look at these other Canon related posts, including how to take full advantage of your autofocus system.

The camera will be offered as a body-only or with the 24-105mm f/4L IS (image stabilized) lens, and is expected to be available in December 2012.

Canon 6D EOS book manual dummies field guide instruction tutorial how to use learn full frame autofocus system

And as I mentioned, I have written the first guide to the Canon 6D, my Full Stop e-book user’s guide for the Canon 6D – Canon 6D Experience, now available.

Order your 6D today on Amazon or B and H:

Canon 6D on Amazon (body only or 24-105mm f/4L kit)

Canon 6D at B and H Photo – body only

Canon 6D at B and H Photo – with the 24-105mm f/4L IS kit lens

Introducing the Nikon D600 Full Frame dSLR Camera and the updated Nikon D610:

(With additions made at the end of this article to explain the features added to the updated Nikon D610)

(First, I have been corrected on the title of this post – the Sony a850 was the first “affordable” full frame (meaning ~$2000 price at introduction). But as I unfortunately only have time in my work day to mostly follow, research, and write about Canon and Nikon news and dSLR cameras, this one slipped by me!)

The day has finally arrived!  For a couple years I have been suggesting to my readers that when choosing lenses they anticipate the time that, someday soon, full-frame cameras will be more affordable.  This was both to address the possibility that certain DX lenses could not be used on an FX body, plus how a lens’ field of view will be affected by a full frame vs. a cropped APS-C sensor.  Well that day has now arrived with the introduction of the Nikon D600.  Initially priced at $2100 (body only), it can certainly be considered the first enthusiast full-frame (or in Nikon terminology, FX Format) camera – and which should also be more than rugged enough and capable enough for a semi-pro or a second body.  And as icing on the cake, DX lenses are indeed compatible with this new FX camera (although the resulting image will be a 10MP DX crop).

(Of course the full-frame Canon 5D Mark II is under $2000 at this time, but that is due to it recently being replaced by the 5D Mark III.  When the 5D Mark II was new, it was priced at around $2700, and didn’t go below $2400 for most of its active life.  And you don’t want the 5D Mk II anymore – its continuous frame rate is slow and its AF system isn’t so hot, especially compared to current models.)

Nikon D600 unbox unboxing full frame FX dSLR camera 35mm new kit lens
Nikon D600 full frame dSLR camera, shown with kit lens Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR – Image by author.  Special thanks to Newtonville Camera of Newton, Mass.

Sensor, Viewfinder: The D600 sits between the D7000 and the recent D800, being closer – I would say – to a full-frame version of the D7000 (with a few more megapixels).  It boasts a 24.3 megapixel image sensor (over the 16.2 MP of the D7000) and the same 39 point autofocus system with 9 cross type points and similar custom settings options as the D7000. This full-frame size sensor delivers not only improved resolution but also increased dynamic range and improved low light / high ISO performance (6400 max. ISO expandable up to 25,600).  As noted above, the full-frame sensor will also affect the field of view of your lenses.  For those coming from an APS-C sized sensor camera, a 50mm lens will now act as a true 50mm lens – no more 1.5x  crop factor to consider.  This means that your wide angle lenses will now act as true wide angle lenses, but your telephoto lenses will no longer have quite as much reach as you may be used to.  However, the D600 offers a DX setting so that you can act as if you have a DX sized sensor.  This camera also has a nice big and bright 100% view viewfinder so that one can easily see their subject, make use of the AF Points, and frame their images.

Interface and Controls: Much of the user interface (menus, displays) as well as the controls are also similar to the D7000, with a few changes such as the addition of the Live View/ Movie switch, a locking Mode Dial switch, and the addition of a Picture Control button.  The newly locking Mode Dial contains the customizable user modes U1 and U2 so that you can set up the camera to quickly switch to your desired mode and settings, including your desired Custom Settings parameters.  In the“why did they do that?” category, Nikon has swapped the position of the Image Zoom [+] and [-] buttons used during image review.  So overall, any D7000 user will be immediately comfortable and familiar with this D600 body.  Changing the AF Mode and AF Area Mode of the D600 is done with the “hidden” button inside the AF/M switch at the base of the lens, in conjunction with the Command Dials (as with the D7000).  The D600 offers two customizable Function Buttons on the front of the camera to set for whichever functions you desire.

Nikon D610 book manual guide how to autofocus settings menu custom setup dummies learn use tips tricks     Nikon D600 book ebook camera guide download manual how to dummies field instruction tutorial

Brief Commercial Interruption: Of course I offer a Full Stop e-book user’s guide for the Nikon D610Nikon D610 Experience, and one for the D600, Nikon D600 Experience.  This first book is currently the highest rated D600 guide on the market, with nearly 50 five star reviews!  Click the links to learn more about the guides and all my other e-book camera guides for Nikon and Canon dSLR cameras.

Nikon D610 D600 autofocus af system full frame use choose decide book guide manual how to dummies
Simulated view of the Nikon D610 / D600 viewfinder showing the location of all 39 autofocus AF Points

Autofocus (AF) System / FPS: As mentioned, the D600 makes use of the 39 point autofocus system with 9 cross-type points of the D7000.  For those not familiar with this system, it is somewhat sophisticated in that it offers several combinations of autofocus modes (for still subjects or a variety of situations with moving subjects), autofocus area modes (how many of the AF points are active and how they track), AF related Custom Settings (to tweak the performance of the system to your subject and needs), and customizable controls (to set which buttons do what).  There is a bit of a learning curve in order to take full advantage and full control of it, but once mastered it enables a photographer to consistently and successfully capture sharp images of still subjects and to track and capture moving subjects in a variety of ways.  You can start to learn about this system in my post explaining how to Take Advantage of the Nikon D7000 Autofocus System.  You can put the AF subject tracking to good use as you shoot up to 5.5 frames per second with the D600.  This is a great frame rate for most action, sports, or wildlife photography – any slower misses important moments and any faster starts to give you nearly identical multiple shots which become a time and memory space drain when backing up and editing. (Of course if you shoot something like motorsports or professional sports, you likely need the faster frame rate of a full-fledged pro camera!)

Body, Size, Battery, Memory Cards: Regarding size and weight, the D600 is slightly larger than than the D7000, but surprisingly 20g lighter (with the battery.)  It shares the same EN-EL 15 battery as the D7000, and offers a new MB-D14 battery grip for the use of two batteries – and to perhaps make the camera more comfortable for some users particularly when using larger lenses or working often in portrait orientation.  The top and rear of the camera body are constructed of strong and light magnesium alloy, and the body is weather sealed against dust and moisture (including the battery and memory card doors).  Although the entire body isn’t magnesium like the Canon 7D or 5D Mk III, it should prove to be more than rugged and durable enough for most any photographer’s needs.  The D600 has two SD memory card slots which can be configured in a variety of ways including overflow (when one card fills images are automatically then saved to the 2nd card), simultaneous back-up (each image is saved on both cards), or stills on one card and movies on the other. The LCD monitor on the rear of the camera is now a slightly larger 3.2 inches (compared to the 3″LCD of the D7000) with 921K pixels, and is optimized for minimum glare and good contrast in sunlight.

Nikon D600 unbox unboxing full frame FX dSLR camera 35mm new kit lens
Unboxing of the Nikon D600 full frame dSLR camera, shown with kit lens Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR – Image by author.  Special thanks to Newtonville Camera of Newton, Mass.

Accessories: Nikon is offering a Wireless Adapter, the WU-1b, which will allow you to immediately share your images through mobile devices, remotely save images, or remotely fire the shutter through a smartphone.  It is also compatible with the Nikon GP-1 GPS unit for geo-tagging your images.

Flash: Unlike the full-frame Canon 5D series that forgo the built-in flash, the D600 (like the D800) has a built-in flash that also acts as a wireless Speedlight Commander to control remote flashes (up to two groups).  The camera of course has a hotshoe for optional external Speedlights like the Nikon SB-900, SB-800, SB-700, or SB-600.

HD Video: And of course the D600 offers full HD video with manual control and all the usual frame rates (1080p at 30/25/24 fps and 720p at 60/50/30 fps). As with stills, you can switch to DX (as if you were using a smaller DX sized sensor) for a “telephoto boost,” and it is capable of full time autofocus, though most dedicated videographers still prefer manually focusing. The camera records mono audio but is compatible with optional stereo mics, and has a headphone jack for audio monitoring.

Bracketing: The D600 unfortunately only offers the choice of 2 or 3 frame Auto Exposure Bracketing (up to +/- 6 EV), which doesn’t help the HDR shooters who would prefer 5 or 7 bracketed shots.  There is a dedicated BKT Bracketing Button on the camera body to initiate this process.  There is also a built-in “HDR mode” which combines and processes two images in-camera.

Nikon D600 book guide ebook instruction manual how to dummies field guide
Image of a gorgeous Nikon F taken with the Nikon D600 and kit lens (24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR)  Unprocessed JPEG straight from camera (with watermarks added), ISO 2500.  Image by author – click to see larger.  Special thanks to Newtonville Camera of Newton, Mass. 

Of course the D600 offers the usual Metering Modes, Drive Modes, and White Balance options, as well as the familiar Scene Modes, Picture Style settings, Multiple Exposure mode, Interval Timer for time-lapse photography, and in-camera image processing and filter/ art effects.

I expect the Nikon D600 to be an extremely popular camera, offering an affordable full-frame camera for dedicated enthusiasts, aspiring pros, and semi-pros, or a highly competent second body for semi-pros and pros.  There is nothing lacking in this camera that would prevent any photographer from capturing the highest quality, professional level images in most every shooting situation, be it general photography, portraits, street photography, studio work, wedding photography, or travel use.  Plus it offers the ability, although somewhat limited by its frame rate and centrally clustered AF Points, to capture non-professional sports, wildlife, and other action type situations.  (See the image at the bottom of the page for the AF Points locations.)

As I work on a comparison post of the current Nikon dSLR line-up, have a look at these other Nikon related posts, including how to take full advantage of your autofocus system.

The camera is offered as a body-only or with the 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR Lens (image stabilized).

And as I mentioned, I will be coming out with a Full Stop e-book user’s guide for the Nikon D600 – Nikon D600 Experience, possibly as soon as November 2012.

Order your D600 today on Amazon or B and H – it is already available and shipping!

Nikon D600 on Amazon (body only or kit)

Nikon D600 at B and H Photo – body only

Nikon D600 at B and H Photo – with the 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR Lens

Nikon D600 full frame FX dSLR camera unbox unboxing 35mm new kit lens 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5
Nikon D600 full frame dSLR camera, shown with kit lens Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR – Image by author.  Special thanks to Newtonville Camera of Newton, Mass.

The Nikon D610 was introduced in October of 2013, and has added a couple minor, but important features to the camera. The D610 incorporates a new shutter mechanism which enables a faster six frames per second (fps) continuous shooting speed and a new Quiet Continuous shutter-release mode for taking a burst of images up to three frames per second and with decreased shutter noise. In addition, the D610 has an improved Auto White Balance setting which promises more natural color reproduction both indoors under artificial lighting and outdoors. As mentioned above, the previous D600 model marked an important moment in the evolution of digital SLR cameras as the first dSLR with a full-frame sized image sensor to also be priced at about $2000 at release, thus putting it within the reach of far more photography enthusiasts. With the D610, Nikon has retained a similar price. And although a number of D600 users reportedly experienced issues with dust or oil spots on the camera’s sensor, it is expected that the new shutter mechanism of the D610 will eliminate this concern.

Nikon D610 D600 autofocus af system points full frame viewfinder
Another simulated view of the Nikon D610 / D600 viewfinder, showing the location of all 39 autofocus AF Points.  Image of Nikon F SLR by author, taken with Nikon D600 with kit lens – 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR, ISO 2500.  Special thanks to Newtonville Camera of Newton, Mass. 

It is here!

Canon 5D Mark III pre-orders available at Amazon.com and at B and H Photo (my affiliate links – thanks for supporting this blog by using them!):

pre-order your Canon 5D Mk III from Amazon

pre-order your Canon 5D Mk III from B and H Photo

 

It is expected to be available and start shipping on March 22, 2012.

THE INTRODUCTION of the CANON EOS 5D Mk III

The long awaited and highly anticipated Canon EOS 5D Mark III has finally been announced!  There has been wide speculation of what the camera will include (including predictions at one time that it would be split into two camera lines for still vs. video).  It seems that the most current leaked specs were accurate, and the new 5D boasts such features as a whopping 61 point autofocus system, improved exposure metering system, fast DIGIC 5+ processor, and dual card slots for CF and SD.

I myself made some educated guesses back on August 5, 2011 as to what the camera was likely to offer.  I have included my predictions below in red, and my reactions and comments are in blue:

Canon EOS 5D Mk III specs:

  • 22.3 MP Full Frame Sensor. (26 to 28 MP Full Frame sensor.)  This is a surprise that they didn’t increase the sensor resolution very much, but as anyone who has used a 5D Mk II is aware, it already has amazing resolution and great high ISO/ low noise performance.  It appears from early test samples that this new sensor is going to show significant improvement in the high ISO/ low noise area, with perfectly acceptable, low noise, usable images all the way up to 12,800.  Yes, 12,800 ISO.
  • DIGIC 5+ Processor. (Single or Dual DIGIC 5 processors).  A nice, fast processor to keep up with the 6 fps frame rate, HD video, and all the image info coming from the high resolution sensor either in RAW or JPEGs that are being processed in-camera to include various settings such as Auto Lighting Optimization, Picture Controls, and other user-set adjustments such as the newly included Lens Aberration Correction.  This higher processing speed will also allow long continuous bursts even with the in-camera processing settings being used on JPEG images as they are being captured.
  • Full HD Movie – ISO 100-12800 H:25600.  (Full HD video at all the frame rates, perhaps with RAW video, perhaps with full time autofocus).  With two different compression formats to choose from, time codes with multiple options, and audio control plus a new headphone jack.
  • 6.0 frames per second high speed continuous shooting.  (7 frames per second high speed continuous shooting.)  Not quite as fast as I expected, but this is actually a much more useful rate for most situations.  This higher fps rate combined with the new 61 point AF system is going to allow the 5D to be used a bit more as a sports and action camera.  It does not appear the this desired feature that I hoped for is included:  Ability to customize Continuous Low and High settings so that you can choose your own rates.
  • ISO 100-25600, expandable to L: 50 H1: 51,200, H2: 102,400.  (ISO 100 to 12,800 or more, and then expandable.)  The new sensor, as mentioned, is likely to have tremendous performance in low light, high ISO situations with minimal noise, and preliminary samples and tests indicate this is indeed the case.
  • 3.2″ 1.04 million pixel Clear View II LCD screen.  Not articulating.  (3” very-high resolution LCD screen – Non-articulating?  Articulating?  Touch screen?)  A nice, high-resolution rear LCD screen, with a wider ratio to match the sensor and great for video shooting.
  • 61 point autofocus system with up to 41 cross type sensors.  (19 point (or more) autofocus system, all cross-type, with numerous configurations and customization options, as taken from the 7D.  Plus the new Autofocus menu system of the new 1D X to make configuring and taking full advantage of the AF system much easier.)  This is the biggest surprise for me.  I expected something like the19 point AF system of the Canon 7D, maybe with 20-30 AF points – but the 61 points is a shock.  While this will be awesome for tracking moving subjects and action, it is also customizable to reduce the number of choosable AF points and make it reasonable workable for “still” photography, as demonstrated in this still grabbed from a Canon video.
      Canon 5D Mk III mark III autofocus points 61 41 15 9
    Still from Canon video on the 5D Mk III

What this is showing is that if you wish to manually select a single AF point – which you should typically do in non-action-tracking situations to ensure that the camera autofocuses exactly where you want – you can limit the number of selectable AF points so that you don’t have to  manually click across dozens of points to quickly get to the one you want.  You can limit it to 9 points (as with the 5D Mk II or 60D), 15 points (similar to the 19 points of the 7D and likely the one I will most often use), just the cross-type points (which will number up to 41 depending on which lens you are using), or all 61 of them.

  • When using Center AF Point with an f/2.8 lens, the 5D Mark III is able to focus in EV -2, which according to Canon, “is the equivalent of shooting by the light of a full moon.”  This is an incredible improvement over the autofocusing abilities of the 5D Mk II, which struggles in low light.
  • 63-zone dual layer metering sensor.  (Improved 63 zone+ exposure metering system)  This is a similar metering system as in many of the current Canon cameras, such as the 7D and 60D, which has proved to be excellent as determining the proper exposure even in challenging lighting situations.  This metering system takes into account color, luminance, as well as information provided by the active AF point(s) to best determine the exposure.
  • Magnesium alloy body with improved durability, water, and dust resistance.  (Magnesium alloy body with weather sealing – already has this, not much improvement required.)  A durable, go-anywhere camera is now even more durable and resistant!

Additional features of the new 5D Mk III:

  • “Intelligent viewfinder” which means it includes the 7D type viewfinder with the LCD grid that can be turned on or off, sensitivity to light and dark to automatically illuminate the AF points when needed, if desired.
  • Silent and Low Vibration Modes.  These are likely designed to enable one to use the camera more stealthily – not just surreptitiously, but in situations such as dance and theater performances where you need the shutter and mirror to be quieter.  Low vibration is handy for optimal sharpness in certain hand-held and tripod shooting situations.
  • Dual memory card slots – CF and SD.  This is a new feature for the 5D line.  (It will likely and hopefully retain the CF card)
  • LP-E6 battery – thankfully they have retained the same battery as the 5D Mk II and 7D.  (It will likely retain the LP-E6 battery)
  • HDR Mode – This is an in-camera feature that will take and combine 3 images, either at auto-levels of exposure or user-selected EV increments.  You can then choose from various options of how you wish the camera to process the final image.  The original 3 images will also be saved for your own use.  The camera also offers an improved 7 stop EV latitude of exposures for auto bracketing, for those who wish to do more with HDR using other software and post-processing themselves.
  • Multiple Exposures – Nikon has had this feature for a while, so it is nice to see it on a Canon.

The 5D Mk III has also incorporated many of the menu and Custom Function features of the 7D, such as the ability to customize many of the buttons and controls of the camera, as well as the new, easier to use and comprehend Autofocus Menu system as the one seen in the Canon 1D X.  By putting all the AF options in one menu, it makes it considerably easier to take advantage of the powerful AF system options without having to access and understand various menus items and Custom Function options (as you do with the 7D).  There are also AF “presets” so you don’t have to remember and set the variables such as “Tracking Sensitivity” and “AF Point Auto Switching.”  The Custom Functions of the 5D Mk III have also been grouped into 3 categories now for ease of use.

There is also an image comparison feature where you can compare two images side by side on the rear LCD to see the effects of your adjustments – double chimping!

Hopefully there will be the options to customize the size of the Center-Weighted, Spot, or Partial Metering circles, and to adjust the Hi Speed and Low Speed Continuous shooting rates, and perhaps some additional WB options such as more Fluorescent option.

Built-in GPS, wireless flash, or wi-fi?  No, they all still require optional, external devices.  But we will see these in-camera features eventually.

I will soon be starting to write an e-book user guide for the Canon 5D Mk III to join my current Full Stop camera guide line-up which includes Canon 7D Experience and Your World 60D. You can check out my Full Stop bookstore website to learn more:

full stop dslr photo photography camera manual guide for dummies canon nikon

If you are interested in pre-ordering your Canon 5D Mk III, please use my referral links to the 5D Mk III on Amazon.com or B&H Photo. Using these links will help support my blog and my work.  Thanks, I appreciate your support!

If you are in the UK, please click here for the UK Amazon referral link.

And if you are in Canada, please click here to use my Canada Amazon.ca referral link.

BandH Photo

Direct Link to Canon 5D Mark III pre-order at B and H Photo.

These are retailers that I have purchased equipment from (excluding Amazon UK/ CA), and I recommend them based on my good experiences, their extensive selection, competitive prices, great customer service and responsiveness, and fair return policies.

Those who appreciate old, rare cameras, especially those with Leica fetishes, should have a look at this catalog for an upcoming Leica auction by Tamarkin Photographica.  The auction takes place October 29 and 30, 2011 in Woodbridge, CT.  There are even a couple Nikon rangefinders available, with gorgeous brassing.


Photo from Tamarkin Photographica Fall 2011 Auction Catalog – Nikon SP with Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 – estimate of $4,000-$6,000


Photo from Tamarkin Photographica Fall 2011 Auction Catalog – Nikon SP with Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 – estimate of $4,000-$6,000

Despite what you may read on countless forums, the “feel” of a dSLR camera is not a valid criterion for selecting one model over another.  At least not without some further explanation of what “feel” and dSLR camera ergonomics entails.

canon nikon ergonomics feel dslr digital slr camera photography

I myself have been guilty of taking the easy road and suggesting to someone, who is trying to decide between a couple models, to go to a camera store and “see how they feel in your hands.”  However, I’ve recently concluded that this statement alone is vague and imprecise at best and more likely potentially dangerously misleading.  And I’ve always contended that this “feel” criterion is secondary to much more important factors. 

First when choosing a camera, one must determine their current and projected needs.  I go into much more detail about this in my earlier post How to Choose a New dSLR Camera (which is thankfully free of the term “feel”).  This involves not just looking at all the new and exciting features and trying to guess if you will need and use them, but rather evaluating what and how you photograph, what features and capabilities you thus need in your camera, then finding the models that fit these needs.  Since cameras boast more advanced controls, features, and capabilities as they move up the line-up (Canon T3i vs Canon 60D vs Canon 7D or Nikon D7000 vs D5100 vs D3100) this will help you narrow down the decision.  The “feel” or ergonomics should definitely not be a deciding factor at this stage.

There are many important differences between an entry level camera and a mid-level camera as far as controls, features, more sophisticated autofocus system, weather proofing, durability, etc., and the fact that one is smaller and lighter than the other is a result of these differences, NOT a feature to be compared.  To take “feel” into account at this point is like someone buying a truck who needs a full-size bed to haul the maximum amount of mulch, but then says, “yeah, but the light-duty truck is smaller so I can park it easier, so I think it ‘drives’ better.”  They wanted a truck to fulfill their needs, yet they decided on another based on the wrong criteria.  No one who needs the full frame sensor, high ISO capabilities, and durability of a Canon 5D Mk II decides instead to get a T3i just because the T3i is lighter to carry around their neck at a wedding all day and “feels” 10x more comfortable in their small hands.

Once you have successfully determined which level camera fits your needs, then you may have narrowed your choices down to the comparable Canon and Nikon models that likely share similar features, such as the Nikon D5100 vs the Canon T3i.  This is where the “feel” argument often comes in.  At this point I will grudgingly allow ergonomics into the picture as one of the deciding factors – but not without further explanation.  What is the difference between “feel” and actual ergonomics?  And what exactly does that mean, the “feel of the camera in your hands?”  For me, initially, before I actually put some thought into it, and for many other people I image, it means just that.  You pick up a D5100 and check out the weight, balance (with the kit lens attached), size of the grip (does your pinky fall off the bottom?), texture of the grip materials (ohh, bumpy!), put it up to your eye and perhaps take a shot.  Then you pick up a T3i (600D) and follow the same procedure.  Some people may prefer the body that is slightly smaller, or the one that is larger – depending on their hand size, and many would prefer a body that was lighter if there was a noticeable difference in weight.  But picking a camera up and holding it in the store is not the same as using it. How it initially feels will likely not be a true indication of how it feels when operating it and using its controls.  It is not a meaningful test of “feel” or ergonomics.

This is especially true for a new dSLR user who has never actually used one for real life shooting.  They don’t yet know how it will feel when using a dSLR because they have yet to do that.  “Feel” needs to take into account more than picking up the camera with the kit lens and holding it to the eye:

  • Ergonomics involves the placements of the buttons and controls that you will access constantly while shooting – the location of the autofocus point selection arrows or thumb joystick, the location and orientation of the main dial that will be used constantly to set aperture or shutter speed.  This is actually a significant ergonomic difference between a Canon and a Nikon that I have never once seen mentioned in a forum about “feel” and if any ergonomic criterion is truly important, I would say it is this one.  I find the top location/ orientation of the Canon dial coupled with the large rear dial a natural, ergonomic joy.  I find the horizontally orientated front and rear dials of Nikons uncomfortable and aggravating to my tenosynovitis.  So until a dSLR user knows where their fingers will be moving and what controls they will want to access with the camera held to their eye, then how can they fully judge “feel?”
  • The ergonomics of a camera body changes, sometimes dramatically, depending on which lens is attached and used.  Most demo cameras in the shop have the small, lightweight 18-55mm kit lens attached.  If this is the lens you will use all the time for the remainder of your dSLR shooting life, then this can be a valid test (see Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Kit Lens).  If not, you should definitely try it out with a couple additional lenses such as a larger telephoto.  Not only will most other lenses be larger and heavier than the kit lens, but the camera will likely be held differently when using them.  If you are a new user, then you may not yet know which lenses you will want and use in the future.  While a small, light, entry-level dSLR body feels great with the kits lens, it can become nearly unusable with a high quality, large, heavy lens.  As one forum contributor said,

“…my 450D felt great with the kit lens, but almost unholdable with a 100-400 and ultimately I got a battery grip for it which helped a lot with that lens. I will add that at the time I bought my 450D I felt it against a 40D and preferred the lightness and size of the 450D.  Had I known then what lie ahead I would have got the 40D.”

Although the 100-400 is a huge lens that many will never buy, the same weight, size, and balance issues hold true for other more “basic” high-quality lenses such as the Canon 24-105mm f/4L or the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L, or even many non-L larger telephoto lenses.  Plus what about putting an optional external flash on top?  That will completely change the balance of any camera.

  • While everyone’s hands are different, etc, I find it hard to believe that Canon and Nikon or the other major manufacturers make a completely un-ergonomic camera for the average range of hands.  I mean other than that Nikon model with the glass shards embedded in the grip and the Canon with the 15 kilo battery.  Sure some can complain about little quirks and button placements, and some cameras are smaller and some are larger and thus feel different to different sized hands.  But remember a dSLR camera is a tool, and I refer you back up to the “full-size bed truck” analogy.
  • When you get new glasses or have dental work done, it always feels funny for a couple days. Then you get used to it and don’t notice. When you work with a camera after a bit, I would bet most would experience the same.  As another forum participant noted,

“When I was buying my first DSLR, the 450D felt weird in my hand, exactly the same as every other DSLR in the shop. The reason?  I did not know what’s what, what will I use and have never hold DSLR in my hand before. It was just a foreign object and felt weird. Got used to the DSLR and after a while it felt like an extension of my hand.”

There are good reasons why cameras and controls are designed with their specific curves, button placements, and materials. And even then, some are more careful, precise, and pleasing to the touch because they are on a pro camera catering to exacting needs.  Some are less rigorously-designed compromises to provide functionality at a lower price-point.  The user just may have to adapt a bit to their tool as they learn these reasons through use and experience.

I agree that in the end, some people just find certain cameras too big, too small, too uncomfortable, etc. for their hands.  But I just don’t think “feel” should continue to be Criteria Number One on every “which camera should I get” forum I read.  I personally have used dozens of different dSLRs, I have handled them extensively as a photographer, salesperson, reviewer, and camera guide author. I have yet to find one I can’t or won’t use due to ergonomics.  They are tools, there are reasons each is designed the way it is, and despite any design/ cost compromises each is fully functional.  In my humble opinion, I believe that ergonomics, and especially “feel,” are over-emphasized in these conversations regarding beginners – or anyone – choosing a camera.

Now don’t get me started on the related issue of “which menu system works best for you.” :)  (Come on, you’ve learned to use dozens of different menu systems with your countless software programs, point-and-shoot cameras, DVD player, TV set-up, Tivo, GPS, etc.  I think you can figure out a well designed Canon or Nikon menu.)

But all of this is moot.  In reality, people should choose a camera based on the brand that their brother-in-law once told them was really good because his father’s friend had one back in ’86 and he took really good pictures with it at a wedding once and he had a really big lens so he totally knew everything about cameras.

apple icloud icon button dslr tutorial aluminum metal metallic iphoto icamera camera photo

I used this great video tutorial from PhotoGuides.net to create my shamelessly derivative, Apple-style, aluminum-appearing camera icon/ button, based on the profile of the Canon 7D.  I tweaked several of the numbers and settings shown in the tutorial, and I will include those details here soon…

There are several other Photoshop tutorials on the PhotoGuides site (and on its YouTube channel) that look really good, such as the “glass” app buttons, plus some non-video tutorials such as how to create the Apple-type reflection seen under my camera button.

Below my icon is the real, original Apple iCloud icon, so you can see how accurate this tutorial can be.  But you really have to fiddle with the bevel and embossing settings, and adjust your gradients settings to align the reflective light rays.  I tried to make my light rays relatively close to the original, but you can create any number of rays and align them as desired.

Now if I only had a photography iPhone/ iPad App to go along with my icon… perhaps one based on my Ten Step to Better dSLR Photography e-book!

 

My two latest photography e-book guides, Canon 7D Experience and Ten Steps to Better dSLR Photography are both “Hot New Releases” in the Amazon Kindle Photography Equipment category!

book photography dslr learn guide manual digital slr camera for dummies

Of course, I’m always second fiddle to Bryan Peterson…

Each of these guides can help you to learn more about the functions, settings, and features of your camera and assist you in improving your photography.

Take control of your camera and the images you create!

Please visit my Full Stop e-book site to learn more about my guides, preview them, and purchase them.

Ten Steps to Better dSLR Photography is an e-book guide to help digital SLR photographers take control of their camera and the images they create.

tips tricks photography dslr learn use manual instruction tutorial for dummies guide

Capturing great images with your dSLR should not be the occasional result of chance and luck.  By taking control of your camera, its functions, and its settings you can begin to work with consistency and intention and take the photos you desire.

Readers of my popular dSLR camera guides such as Nikon D5100 Experience and Your World 60D have benefited from the clear and concise explanations of digital SLR photography functions and concepts. With Ten Steps to Better dSLR Photography all photographers can learn these essential elements necessary for taking full advantage of a dSLR including how, when and why to use the camera’s various functions and settings.

With this guide you will learn:

  • Controlling Your Autofocus System – focus where you want for sharp photos of still and moving subjects.
  • Understanding Apertures and using Aperture Priority Mode to capture dramatic depth of field.
  • Understanding Shutter Speed and using Shutter Priority Mode to freeze or express action.
  • Choosing the Metering Mode, Adjusting Exposure Compensation, and Using the Histogram for proper exposure in all lighting situations.
  • Determining proper ISO Settings and White Balance Settings.
  • Selecting JPEG or RAW image file format to save your images.
  • Improving Image Composition.
  • The Image Taking Process – a tutorial making use of all the steps learned.
  • …and more!

These are not simply photography “tips and tricks” but rather clear, concise, and useful explanations and examples of the fundamental functions, settings, and concepts of digital SLR photography. This 54 page illustrated PDF guide can help the novice or intermediate photographer better understand their camera and how to use it to its full capabilities to consistently capture better images, whether you shoot with a Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony, or Olympus dSLR camera.

Author:  Douglas Klostermann
Format:  PDF – Instant Download
Page Count:  54 pages, illustrated
ISBN:  978-1-4524-4764-3
Price: $8.99 new release sale!  $6.99
secure payment with PayPal or Credit card (via PayPal)
(plus 6.25% sales tax for residents of Massachusetts)

Buy Now with PayPal  or  Buy Now with your Visa/MC

 

Other versions of Ten Steps to Better dSLR Photography are available:

The Kindle edition is available on Amazon
The Nook version is available at BarnesandNoble.com
The iPad and iBooks version is available through iTunes or through the iBooks App on your iPhone/iPad

Take control of your dSLR camera and the images you create!

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I suppose I should join the photo blogger holiday tradition of putting together a holiday and Christmas gift guide for photographers or those who are shopping for the photographer in their life! If you plan to purchase any of these items through Amazon.com, I you can use the product links I set up throughout this post, which will bring you right to that product’s page on Amazon. (Amazon will then reward me with a small referral reward for my effort, which will help support my blog. Thanks! If you are in the UK or wish to purchase from B+H, see the end of this post for link information.) And now on to the shopping:

The first thing you are going to need is the Canon 24-105mm f/4 lens Mug or Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens Mug to drink your hot cocoa or hazelnut coffee as you are unwrapping the rest of your gifts. These extremely popular and awesomely realistic mugs, complete with rubber ring grips, have a wide f/4 or f/2.8 opening which enables them to take in copious amounts of liquid just as your lens takes in all that light. The lens caps protects your beverage when not in use – no UV filter needed.
Canon lens mug 24-105mm f/4 Nikon Lens 24-70mm f/2.8 mug

The best gift of the season for most photographers would most likely be a brand new digital dSLR camera to upgrade what they are currently shooting with – one with a few more megapixes, improved autofocus system, faster continuous shooting speeds, and some new bells and whistles.

For many photographers this will be the new Canon EOS 60D body only or the Canon 60D with 18-135mm kit lens. The EOS 60D has continued Canon’s tradition of ease of use, great ergonomics and controls, fantastic image quality and low light performance, plus added a swiveling real LCD screen. And full HD video with more frame rate options than the competitors.
canon eos 60d
For Nikon shooters the best choice is the brand new, highly sought-after Nikon D7000. The Nikon D7000 body only or D7000 with 18-105mm lens cost a bit more than the 60D, but they provide the additional features to justify the higher cost: faster continuous shooting rate, partial magnesium body, more advanced and customizable autofocus system, and two SD memory card slots to save all those shots and HD movies. Either one makes a excellent camera that is capable of producing high quality images.
Nikon D7000
Of course you are going to want some new lenses to go with these cameras. Why not step up to the professional quality lenses to see that immediate improvement in image quality, color, contrast, as well as lens and autofocus performance? For Canon this means the L series of lenses. Expand your focal range or fill in some gaps with a high quality wide angle zoom, standard zoom, or telephoto zoom.

For wide angle zooms, look at either the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM or the EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

For standard zooms, which make for a great “walk-around” lens, consider the Canon EF 24-70 f/2.8L USM or EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM


And in the telephoto zoom range, look at the EF 70-200, f/2.8L II IS USM or the much less expensive and lighter EF 70-200, f/4L IS USM

One of these lenses in each pair will be both more expensive AND heavier, so be sure and handle them first before you decide on one.

This may also be a good time to start experimenting with prime lenses. Their extra wide maximum apertures will allow you to use them in much lower light, and will create great, smooth background blurring for awesome portraits. Depending on how closely you like to work to your subject, a few to consider are the Canon 35mm f/2, Canon 50mm f/1.8 II for about $100, Canon 50mm f/1.4 (a little more costly 50mm), or the Canon 85mm f/1.8.

An extremely fun lens to work with is the Canon EF 100mm f.2.8 Macro USM. It is incredibly sharp, has dramatically narrow depth of field at f/2.8, and works as a great portrait lens too. If you have never used a macro, go try one out and experience what makes them so cool. The 60D and D7000 images just above were taken with this lens, as well as the cool close up shots of the following post comparing the Nikon D7000 vs D90 vs D300s.

If you need just one versatile lens for everyday use or for travel, the three lenses to consider are the EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM in the L series lenses, or else the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS or EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS.

Of course with any of these lenses, be sure to protect them with a clear or UV filter, preferably a high quality, coated B+W brand UV filter. You can read a lot more about these lenses and how to choose between them in my earlier post, Best Lenses for Everyday and Travel Photography.

Possibly the most comfortable way to carry your camera around all day, especially when using a larger, heavier lens, is the BlackRapid RS-7 Camera Strap. I highly recommended this strap, and I use the older RS-4 version daily. They have made some steady, welcomed improvements on them, including the curved shoulder pad of the RS-7, the quick release strap, and the improved connecting hardware. The base that screws into your camera is a lower profile, stronger single piece, and the securing screw surface on the clasp ring is smooth rather than knurled so that it will no longer scratch up your camera bottom. The strap is comfortable, easy to use, quick, strong, and rugged. I often use it in conjunction with wearing a backpack, and although the straps fight for space against each other on my shoulder, it still works fine. There is also now a version designed for women, the RS-W1 plus a new woman’s version in just black. They are also introducing 2 different pieces of hardware which will allow you to attach your camera to a tripod without removing the R-Strap’s base that is already attached to your camera.

You are going to need something to carry all this equipment around in. My current favorite is the Lowepro Compu Trekker AW backpack, which is now called the Lowepro ProRunner 350 AW. I use this as both my airline carry-on and my working bag during the day. The size works perfectly for both needs. It easily fits the airline carry-on size, including smaller international requirements in some regions, yet fits more that it would first appear. With careful configuration of the interior dividers, I can fit 2 Canon bodies, three lenses, a 580EX II flash, its diffuser, 2 external hard drives in cases, a couple memory card cases, and some filters. In the outside pocket, I have a couple battery chargers, extra batteries, medium Rocket Blower, miscellaneous cords, caps, and accessories. In the rear pocket designed for a laptop, I easily fit a 32″ 5 in 1 reflector. The pack is extremely comfortable, has tons of padding on the straps and the back so that its weight never bothers me and I don’t feel the reflector in my back. I often wear it for hours a day while working, and it is never a problem. The Pro Runner 450 AW might be a better carry on size so that you could carry more gear on the plane with you (if it fits the airline’s requirements) but it would be too big for daily use. There are also rolling versions of these, with an “x” in the name, thought the retractable handles and wheels add weight and size to the bags.


For adventure videographers, the item of the year is the GoPro HD HERO Cam, which you attach to your helmet, head, mountain bike, snowboard, skateboard, motorcycle, or whatever to shoot professional quality, point of view video. It comes in a variety of packages with different mounts. Film and share your adventures in full HD video! Click the image to see it on Amazon or click here to learn more and but direct at the GoPro website.


And to save all those images you are taking, memory cards will make great stocking stuffers. I like Sandisk Extreme 16 GB SD cards. If you still use CF cards, be sure to get the SanDisk Extreme 16GB CF cards. Use a Sandisk card reader to upload the images to your computer, rather than from the camera directly, in order to save the camera batteries. This Sandisk Card Reader is for the CF cards, and the 5 in 1 reads SD cards.

And for some basic stocking stuffers, here are a few simple but essential items for keeping your camera and lenses clean:

Giottos Medium Rocket Blower in the medium or large size. Always have it handy for getting dust off lenses in a hurry, because blowing on them – no matter how careful – leads to spittle on the lenses 5% of the time when it doesn’t matter and 95% of the time when you are in the most critical situations.

Pearstone LP-1 Lens Pen – Works great for cleaning off mysterious spots, smudges, and fingerprints that always appear on the lens (this is why I always use UV filters) as well as that a-fore-mentioned spittle. There is a retractable brush on one end and a cleaning head on the other end. Twist the cap to load the cleaning tip with the carbon based cleaning material, then remove the cap and use. Please read the instructions and visit the LensPen website to fully learn how to use it properly.

For more photography equipment and accessories like those above, be sure to see this previous post Equipment for Travel (and Everyday) Photography.

To edit and save all your photos, you are going to need some hard drive space and some software:

External Hard Drives – The Iomega Ego 1TB and a Lacie Rugged USB 1TB work great both at home and when traveling. There is a FireWire version of the Lacie Rugged 500GB also. Both are built solid and sturdy, and each fit perfectly in the Case Logic Portable Hard Drive Case made for these types of drives. Get the cases in different colors so you can quickly differentiate your different drives. For storage at home, consider a couple Western Digital My Book 1TB External Hard Drives.

Post-Production – After taking all these wonderful images with your new equipment, you are going to need to organize, edit, and work on all your photos. And for that, of course you are going to need Adobe Photoshop CS4 and/ or Adobe Lightroom 3. You can start off with the trial versions that you can download from the Adobe site, but sooner or later you are going to have to get the real versions. Use that student discount if you can!

Also be sure to consider all the great photo books to help you learn to use your equipment, improve you images and compositions, and be inspired. I’ve put together a post of several of my favorites that you can read here. The most recent addition to the bookshelf is:

The Photographer’s Mind: How to See and Shoot Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman
Every time I read Freeman’s The Photographer’s Eye, I lament, usually aloud, “why doesn’t he have more books like this?” Well, my wishes appear to have been answered. His next book The Photographer’s Mind has just come out.

And don’t forget the eBooks I put together for setting up and learning to use you Canon dSLR:

Your World 60D – The Still Photographer’s Guide to Operation and Image Creation with the Canon 60D – an eBook user’s guide and tutorial I wrote to help get you up and running with the 60D, quickly and competently. You can learn more about it at this post here. In addition to the PDF version, which also looks great on the iPad, it is also available in a Kindle edition on Amazon.com here and a Nook verion on BarnesandNoble.com Plus, for the Rebel T2i / EOS 550D, I have written T2i Experience – a similar guide for Canon T2i / 550D users.

Purchasing: If you plan to purchase cameras, photo equipment, books, or anything else from Amazon.com I encourage you to do so through any of the Amazon referral links I’ve set up. Just click on the equipment name or book title within this post and you will be taken to that Amazon page. Or click here to go directly to Amazon or click on the Amazon.com logo below, and start shopping. Thanks, I appreciate your support!

If you are in the UK, you can click here for the UK Amazon referral link.

For those interested in purchasing through B&H Photo, Adorama, or directly from Canon, I have set up affiliate links with them as well – find them on the left side of this page.

Happy Holidays, and I hope you get everything on your list!

When one is getting more and more into photography, learning about different techniques and equipment, they may start to think – or get the impression from reading various books and blogs – that there is the “right way” or the right piece of equipment to use to achieve the best images.   For example there are dozens of flash modifiers and diffusers available, and you might start to think that one of them works the best, one of them is the one that the pros use, if you could only find the right information and figure out which one it is.  But the truth is, when it comes to photography, there is sometimes no one right way to do something.  You just have to look at all the options, experiment, analyze how you work and your resulting images, and then figure out what is going to work best for you.

Delilah and the spring

I recently got sucked into a discussion on a forum about whether or not to use a UV protective filter on your lenses.  I contend that it is always a good idea to use one.  But that is because I feel it is a wise thing to do for the way I work and photograph.  It may not be necessary for others who work differently.  I work out in the field traveling, or out-and-about in a city.  I take off my lens cap when I start working for the day and put it aside until the end of the day.  My camera is slung over my shoulder and is exposed to being banged around, touched by kid’s fingers, and to dust and mystery spots that need to be quickly cleaned off.  I don’t mind quickly wiping some dust off the front of my filter with my shirt, a blast of air with the Rocket Blower, or a quick brush and clean with the LensPen, but I would not want to do that so quickly and often with the actual lens and risk scratching it.  I feel that replacing a $100 filter is a better idea than risking a several hundred dollar repair with 4 weeks down time on a lens.

Other people walk around, carefully carrying their camera in a case between shots, or replacing the lens cap after each shot or between situations.  Or perhaps they take out their camera, put it on a tripod, and take landscape shots.  They may not need a protective filter in those uses, and may not wish to risk any minor degradation in image quality.  (If you get a coated or multi-coated UV filter like a B+W brand one, your loss of image quality will be less-than-negligible.  If you use a cheaper Tiffen filter, you risk having some issues.)  If the risk of damage to their lens is small, then it works for them not to use a filter.  However, I was in a camera store yesterday, and a woman was replacing her UV filter because her camera dropped and the filter was shattered.  The filter’s ring was dented, but there was no damage to the lens at all.  She did not intend to drop her camera – that was not part of the way she worked – but it happened.  A few dollars for a new filter saved her hundreds of dollars in repairs and the loss of her lens over the holidays.

Before you invest in various accessories that sound like they might improve your images or assist you in how you work, put some thought into it first.  If they are a hassle to use or don’t fit into your process, you may end up putting them aside and never really using them.  Analyze your needs first and then find a product that matches them.  You may read about someone touting a white balance device that seems like it almost magically improves all their photos.  You want better photos, so why not give it a try?  But have you really come across the need for it?  Are you prepared to custom set your white balance every time you enter a new lighting situation?  Or do you typically work outside in daylight or inside in standard incandescent light and really don’t need to set a custom white balance at all?

So, all that being said, there are several accessories I find helpful, or even essential – at least for the way I work!  I talk about them in this previous post, Equipment for Travel (and Everyday) Photography.

My second eBook and Canon dSLR camera user’s guide is now available! In addition to Your World 60D, the eBook guide for the Canon 60D, I have also written a Canon Rebel T2i / EOS 550D book:

T2i Experience – The Still Photographer’s Guide to Operation and Image Creation With the Canon Rebel T2i / EOS 550D

Canon Rebel T2i EOS 550D book guide manual tutorial how to instruction T2i Experience

Looking for a Canon Rebel T2i / EOS 550D book to help you learn and begin to master your new dSLR? T2i Experience will help you learn how to use your digital SLR, quickly and competently, to create the types of images you want to capture. This camera is an advanced tool, and the guide explains how to use it to its full potential. Begin to take control of your camera, the image taking process, and the photos you create.

This instant download eBook guide is for those who wish to get more out of their T2i / 550D, and go beyond Auto or Program mode and shoot in Av mode and Tv mode. While it explains basic dSLR camera functions and exposure concepts for those new to digital SLR photography, it concentrates on teaching more advanced camera controls and operation, such as using the various metering modes and exposure compensation for correct exposure of every image, controlling autofocus modes and focus points for sharp focus of still or moving subjects, and utilizing dramatic depth of field for professional looking photographs. Learning to get the most out of a dSLR can involve a steep learning curve, and I believe my book can help you speed up that process.

You can preview it at the following link. The preview shows:
-the Table of Contents
the Introduction
-a sample Menu Settings page
-a sample Custom Functions Settings page
-and a sample text page.

Preview: http://www.dojoklo.com/writing/T2i_Experience-Preview.pdf

See below for where to purchase.

Purchase T2i Experience through PayPal here! (or click the PayPal or Credit card check-out button below)
This version is in PDF format, text-only, 8.5″x11″, which can be read on your computer screen, printed on your printer, taken with you on your laptop, and can also be read on the iPad.

Format: PDF – Instant Download
Page Count:
48
Price:
$9.99 now on Sale: $7.99
(plus 6.25% sales tax for residents of Massachusetts)
Secure payment with PayPal or Credit card

Buy now from PayPal! or Buy Now

__________

The Kindle Edition of T2i Experience is also available, at Amazon.com and the Nook Edition is available at BarnesandNoble.com.

__________

T2i Experience is a PDF guide that builds upon the information offered by the camera’s manual. In addition to covering the various settings, functions and controls of the Canon T2i / 550D, its lessons explain when and why to use them. It also describes every Menu setting and Custom Function setting, with recommended settings, including Movie Mode menus. Note that it focuses on still photography and not video except for a brief introduction to menus and important video settings to get you started.

Sections include:

  • Setting Up Your T2i All of the Menu settings and Custom Function settings, including movie mode menus, with brief descriptions and recommended settings for practical, everyday use. Set up and customize the advanced features of the T2i to work best for the way you photograph.
  • Aperture Priority Mode (Av) and Shutter Priority Mode (Tv) – How and when to use them to create dramatic depth of field or to freeze or express motion.
  • Auto Focusing Modes and Drive Modes – How they differ, how and when to use them to capture sharp images of both still and moving subjects. Also how and when to use focus lock and back-button focusing.
  • Exposure Metering Modes – How they differ, how and when to use them for correct exposures in every situation. Also how to make use of exposure lock.
  • Histograms, Exposure Compensation, Bracketing, and White Balance – Understanding and using these features for adjusting to the proper exposure in challenging lighting situations.
  • Lenses – Explanation of Canon lenses and choosing your next lens.
  • Composition – Brief tips, techniques, and explanations, including the creative use of depth of field.
  • The Image Taking Process – A descriptive tutorial for using the settings and controls you just learned to take photos.
  • Photography Accessories – The most useful accessories for day-to-day and travel photography
  • Introduction to Video Settings – Some basic settings to get you started

This digital field guide to the Canon Rebel T2i / EOS 550D is a 48 page, PDF format text-only document, full of helpful information.

It can also be purchased through PayPal on my website bookstore, Full Stop – good writing for better photography.

Master your Canon T2i and learn to use it to its full capabilities! And if you have a Canon 60D, be sure to check out Your World 60D – The Still Photographer’s Guide to Operation and Image Creation with the Canon EOS 60D.

There are countless books available about digital photography, ranging from general over-encompassing guides to specific texts on lighting or composition. Many of them discuss basically the same topics, and after reading and absorbing a few, you begin to pick up only a few new tips or pieces of knowledge here and there.

But I’ve put together a list of what I think are the best books for digital photography out there. These are the ones I believe you should read first, the ones that will give you the maximum bang for the buck, and which are consistently full of solid, useful information. They are divided into categories of Camera Guides for specific cameras, Digital Photography Guides for general information and composition, Lighting and Flash, and Post-Production for Photoshop and Lightroom.

You can click on each title to take you directly to Amazon.com. If you purchase through these links Amazon will reward me with a small referral fee, so I appreciate you helping to support my photography work and my effort of creating all these links!

Sections:

Digital Photography Guides
Camera Guides
Lighting and Flash
Post Production

 

Digital Photography Guides

Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson
I recommend this book throughout my blog for anyone who is new to digital SLR photography or ready to take their camera off Auto or Program and needs to learn and understand the relationship between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. It is the go-to book to help you learn these essential settings, take control of your dSLR and image making process, and start to use aperture priority and shutter priority modes.

Learning to See Creatively by Bryan Peterson
By the same author as above. Once you have control of your camera after reading Understanding Exposure, you will quickly discover you need to learn how to make better compositions in order to take better photos. This book can help start you on this process. His best piece of advice is to think about and use different, more dynamic points of view in your photos. Taking a photo of a flower? What would the image look like from the flower’s point of view? Simple but brilliant.

The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman
As I just said above, once you get control of your camera and its settings after reading some of the other camera and photo guides, you may wonder why your photos aren’t improving as quickly as you had hoped. That is when you need to turn to this book. It is a unique book for teaching photographic composition – which is an often difficult concept to teach beyond the basics. Most books explain concepts such as the rule of thirds or depth of field, but this book takes it to a whole new level. And he walks the reader through the example images describing the process and decisions he makes as he works a scene (which must be what inspired my Deconstructing the Shot series of posts!) It is a challenging book, and it takes some experience with working at photography and applying the basic composition techniques and experiencing specific problems and frustrations before one can get the most out of this book. So if it is too heavy for you at first reading, come back to it after you have worked at it some more. This is perhaps my favorite photography book, and I wish there were more out there that were as helpful as this one. I re-read it every few months to set these concepts into my brain.

The Photographer’s Mind: How to See and Shoot Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman
Every time I read Freeman’s The Photographer’s Eye, I lament, usually aloud, “why doesn’t he have more books like this?” Then I did some more research and discovered an older book of his, Achieving Photographic Style, from 1984. It blew me away – it is just as good as Photographer’s Eye, but a bit dated in many ways, as it discusses the photographic trends of that period and it is pre-digital. Again, I lamented, “why can’t he update this book for today?” Well, my pleas appear to have been answered. His next book The Photographer’s Mind has just come out. I haven’t seen it yet, but I immediately ordered my copy from Amazon.

Pro Photographer’s D-SLR Handbook by Michael Freeman
This is a comprehensive handbook for everything about digital photography from equipment, lighting and accessories, to technical explanations of settings and concepts, to post-production including Photoshop and printing. It covers a lot of topics, but gives good, solid information. Like its title says, it is a handbook that is extremely handy to have as a reference guide for everything related to digital SLR photography. Essential for any serious intermediate dSLR photographer, whether you desire to be a pro or just have the knowledge of one.

The Digital Photography Book (Volume 1) by Scott Kelby
Scott Kelby’s series of books are good for the beginning or intermediate dSLR photographer. Some claim that everything they know about digital photography they learned from Scott Kelby. Other reviewers on Amazon don’t think he’s so great. Never-the-less, he doesn’t get caught up in technical explanations, but rather just tells you what settings and equipment to use and how to do something. The page-by-page brief topics each give starting points for anyone confused about the variety of subjects they may be trying to absorb from all the other books. For example, every Photoshop book explains Unsharpen Mask, but then leaves you totally clueless as to where to even start with the three sliders. Kelby simply tells you what numbers to use. (Actually that may have been from one of his Photoshop books, but that is the type of info he provides.) Keep in mind, all of his advice is intended as starting points. His word is not gospel, it is to help you begin and then you can experiment and learn from your own experience after that. These are not books to teach you the basics of digital photography, but are rather a collection of various, almost random tips about a wide variety of photo topics. Keep in mind, his instructions are not the only way to do something, and sometimes they are actually very round-about ways of doing things that can be done much more simply. His humor is annoying to some and the equipment he uses may be totally unnecessary for how you work, so take what you read with a grain of salt. As a studio photographer, Kelby is especially knowledgeable about flash and lighting. There are three books in this series, which can also be bought as a set, as seen below.

The Digital Photography Book, Volume 2 by Scott Kelby
See above description of The Digital Photography Book.

The Digital Photography Book, Volume 3 by Scott Kelby
See above description of The Digital Photography Book.

Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set, Volumes 1, 2, and 3 by Scott Kelby
See above description of The Digital Photography Book.

National Geographic Photography Field Guide: Secrets to Making Great Pictures, Second Edition by Peter Burian and Bob Caputo
This is a great general guide to photography, with insightful and useful nuggets of information from some of the best Nat Geo pros, like Sam Abell and Michael Nichols. However, it is a bit dated, from the films days at the verge of digital. But I feel it is still worth reading because the essentials of image making remain unchanged. The updated version is below, but I have not yet seen it, and it may be all new with different content. Maybe see if your library has this one.

National Geographic Ultimate Field Guide to Photography: Revised and Expanded by National Geographic
I haven’t yet seen this updated version, but based on the previous edition as well as the Travel Photography version, it is bound to be good.

National Geographic Ultimate Field Guide to Travel Photography by Scott Stuckey
This is an excellent introduction to most everything you need to know to work as a travel photographer with helpful information for both beginner and more advanced photographers that isn’t found in most other travel photography books. And it contains valuable contributions from several professional travel photographers like Bob Krist and Catherine Karnow. However, its title is annoying because it is not in any way a field guide. It is not designed as a quick and easy reference to any of the topics it covers, as the term field guide would imply, but rather it is a book to read before your travels, and a book to read to learn the realities of working as a travel photographer. It is also a book about how to take travel photos in the visual and editorial style of Nat Geo Traveler magazine. I highly recommend this book for someone who is truly interested in becoming a commercial travel photographer, as it competently and thoroughly covers numerous aspects of this vocation – technical, logistical, and perhaps most importantly, learning how to tell a story through photographs. Or if you don’t wish to become a pro travel photographer but want to learn to capture better travel images, it will be most helpful for someone whose travel style truly accommodates the time and effort if takes to make great travel images.

Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision by David DuChemin

VisionMongers: Making a Life and Living in Photography by David DuChemin

Rick Sammon’s Complete Guide to Digital Photography 2.0: Taking, Making, Editing, Storing, Printing, and Sharing Better Digital Images by Rick Sammon

Rick Sammon’s Travel and Nature Photography by Rick Sammon

 

Camera Guides

First, of course, I have to mention my e-book user’s guides! So far I have written one for each of these cameras:

Nikon D7000 Experience
Nikon D5100 Experience
Canon T3i Experience
Your World 60D
Canon 7D Experience
Canon T2i Experience

full stop dslr photo photography camera manual guide for dummies canon nikon

Plus a book for all other dSLR owners, Ten Steps to Better dSLR Photography

dslr learn improve autofocus exposure aperture shutter priority for dummies

You can learn more about them at my Full Stop ebook bookstore, (www.dojoklo.com/Full_Stop/). These guides go beyond the manuals to help you learn to use your powerful camera to its full potential so that you can improve your photography and consistently take better photos. The guides cover the settings, functions and controls of these advanced dSLR cameras, plus explain when and why to use them to improve your photography and your images. Aimed towards intermediate photographers, they also clearly explain basic dSLR camera functions and exposure concepts for those new to digital SLR photography. Take control of your camera and the images you create!

These guides are available in PDF versions as well as Kindle, Nook, and iBooks/ iTunes versions.

 

Canon 7D: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Nicole S. Young
This series of camera user’s guides explains everything in a way that is clear and easy to understand and put to use. They don’t get bogged down in confusing technical explanations, but instead present everything in a straightforward, user-friendly manner. The books explain not only how to use the camera, but how to use it to take better photos. Recommended for someone relatively new to digital SLR photography who wants to quickly learn to use their camera and improve their photography.

Nikon D5100: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Rob Sylvan
see above description for Canon 7D: From Snapshots to Great Shots.

There are also From Snapshots to Great Shots guides for every other camera out there including the Canon 60D, Canon G12, Nikon D7000, etc.

David Busch’s Canon EOS 7D Guide to Digital SLR Photography by David Busch
David Busch’s camera guides are all excellent books, and will help you really get to know and understand all the features and functions of you camera. They are clear and straightforward enough for the beginner, yet are also in-depth and technical for the intermediate and advanced dSLR user. Recommended as a more comprehensive and easy to understand manual than the one that comes with your camera.

David Busch’s Nikon D7000 Guide to Digital SLR Photography by David Busch
This is an all-encompassing bible for the D7000. If you wish to learn every single feature, setting, menu item, option, etc., this is the place to look. If you wish to learn all the essential features, how to use them in the real world, and be up and running with your D7000 quickly, start first with Nikon D7000 Experience before delving into this tome.

David Busch of course has guides for every other dSLR camera out there including the Canon 60D, Canon T3i / 600D, Canon 5D Mk II, and the Nikon D5100.

See all the David Busch Digital SLR Camera Guides.

 

Lighting and Flash

Available Light: Photographic Techniques for Using Existing Light Sources by Don Marr
This is a simple, straightforward book that immediately changed the way I see light and the way I photograph using natural light.  You often hear the idea of “taking your photography to the next level.”  This book doesn’t itself make that claim, yet it is one of the few photography books that can actually deliver that result.  It is short, easy to read and to understand, and immediately applicable to your work.  Many books discuss light – it’s direction, intensity, quality, softness, color – and you think, “Yeah! I’m keenly aware of different light and how it falls on my subject.”  But did that knowledge suddenly help you to take better photos?  Many books never fully take it the next step and really explain how to seek out, modify, and use this light.  You may or may not be able to then figure it all out on your own.  I thought I had until I read this book.

It actually guides you in exactly the right direction and truly helps to open your eyes to the intensity, direction, and quality of natural light, and then teaches you to work with it and modify it to create the softness/ hardness, direction, color, and intensity you want, whether you are working on an overcast day, at high noon, inside, outdoors, or any other type of situation.  It makes one suddenly aware of the existence and potential use of natural reflectors everywhere which will help give you the lighting you want:  a wall, the ground, a pole.  And it explains the important concept and effective practice of subtractive lighting, used to even-out or create the desired lighting instead of turning to flash to artificially add to existing lighting.  The concepts in this book are so obvious and intuitive I didn’t even write down a single note while reading it the first time.  Then the next week I used what I learned and took one of the nicest, best lit spontaneous portraits I have ever taken.

While many are happily joining the Strobist camp, this book offers a refreshing and viable alternative to that never-ending accumulation of lighting equipment and techniques, and should be read by off-camera-flash fans as well so they can learn to look for beautiful natural lighting alternatives that will give them as-good or even better images, before setting up their lighting equipment and knocking down the natural light in order to rebuild it artificially.  However the author is not against the (limited) use of flash, and certainly not against reflectors, and discusses their use in different situations.  I highly recommend this book to photographers of every level.  It is a wonderful book for beginners or intermediate photographers so that they can be aware of, understand, and use these concepts from the start, and it is just as helpful for advanced photographers who may intuitively practice some of the techniques, but will certainly become aware of even greater potential and opportunities in the use of available light.

As you can see, I’m pretty enthusiastic about this book. I even contacted the publisher and asked them for a copy that I could use as a free give-away here on my blog, and indeed they are sending me one! (The free give-away is now completed.)

On-Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Wedding and Portrait Photography by Neil van Niekerk

The Complete Guide to Light & Lighting in Digital Photography by Michael Freeman

 

Post-Production

The Adobe Photoshop CS5 Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby
Scott Kelby is the founder and head of NAPP, the Photoshop users’ organization, so I don’t have any qualifications with the Photoshop and Lightroom recommendations as I did with his photo books above.

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby

Adobe Photoshop CS4 How-Tos: 100 Essential Techniques by Chris Orwig

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 How-Tos: 100 Essential Techniques by Chris Orwig

And of course in able to make use of the Photoshop and Lightroom books, you are going to need the software!
Adobe Photoshop CS4 and/ or Adobe Lightroom 3 are the latest versions. Photoshop CS4 has the amazing and revolutionary content aware fill, which takes cloning and spot healing to a whole new dimension. And Lightroom has quickly become the tool of choice for photographers to work on their images.

(Descriptions of some of the above books still to come!)

Looking for a Canon EOS 60D book or tutorial to help you learn and begin to master your new dSLR? I’ve written an eBook user’s guide for the Canon 60D, called Your World 60D – The Still Photographer’s Guide to Operation and Image Creation. Learn to use the Canon 60D quickly and competently, and improve your photography and capture better images. The 60D is an advanced tool, and this guide explains how to start to use it to its full potential. Begin to take control of your camera, the image taking process, and the photos you create.

Canon EOS 60D book manual download for dummies user guide instruction tutorial Your World 60D

This instant download eBook guide is for those who wish to get more out of their 60D, and go beyond Auto or Program mode and shoot in Aperture Priority (Av) mode and Shutter Priority (Tv) mode. It covers basic dSLR camera functions and exposure concepts for those new to digital SLR photography, plus it also explains more advanced camera controls and operation, such as using the various metering modes and exposure compensation for correct exposure of every image, controlling autofocus modes and focus points for sharp focus of still or moving subjects, and creating dramatic depth of field for professional looking photographs. Learning to get the most out of a dSLR can involve a steep learning curve, and I believe my book can help you speed up that process.

See below for how to purchase.  You can preview Your World 60D at the following link. The preview shows the Table of Contents, Introduction, a sample Menu Settings page, a sample Custom Functions Settings page, and a sample text page.

Preview: http://www.dojoklo.com/writing/Your_World_60D-Preview.pdf

Your World 60D is a text-only PDF guide that builds upon the information offered by the camera’s manual and focuses on the essential functions and settings for real world 60D use. In addition to covering the various settings, functions and controls of the Canon 60D, its lessons explain when and why to use them. It also describes every Menu setting and Custom Function setting, with recommended settings, including Movie Mode menus. Note that it focuses on still photography and not video except for a brief introduction to menus and important video settings to get you started.

Sections include:

  • Setting Up Your 60D All of the Menu settings and Custom Function (C.Fn) settings, including movie mode menus, with brief descriptions and recommended settings for practical, everyday use. Set up and customize the advanced features of the 60D to work best for the way you photograph.
  • Aperture Priority Mode (Av) and Shutter Priority Mode (Tv) – How and when to use them to create dramatic depth of field or to freeze or express motion.
  • Auto Focusing Modes and Drive Modes – How they differ, how and when to use them to capture sharp images of both still and moving subjects. Also how and when to use focus lock and back-button focusing.
  • Exposure Metering Modes – How they differ, how and when to use them for correct exposures in every situation. Also how to make use of exposure lock.
  • Histograms, Exposure Compensation, Bracketing, and White Balance – Understanding and using these features for adjusting to the proper exposure in challenging lighting situations.
  • Composition – Brief tips, techniques, and explanations, including the creative use of depth of field.
  • The Image Taking Process – A descriptive tutorial for using the settings and controls you just learned to take photos.
  • Photography Accessories – The most useful accessories for day-to-day and travel photography
  • Introduction to Video Settings – Some basic settings to get you started

This digital field guide to the Canon EOS 60D is a 40 page, PDF format text-only document, full of helpful information applicable to the new and intermediate dSLR photographer – to turn you into an advanced digital photographer!  Begin to master your Canon 60D and start to use it to its full capabilities.

Purchase Your World 60D through PayPal here! (or click the PayPal or Credit card check-out button below)
This version is in PDF format, text-only, 8.5″x11″, which can be read on your computer screen, printed on your printer, taken with you on your laptop, and can also be read on the iPad.

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Other versions of Your World 60D e-book:

The Kindle edition is available on Amazon.com
The Nook edition is available online at Barnes and Noble
The iPad and iPhone version is available through Apple’s iTunes or through the iBooks App.

What Readers are Saying about Doug Klostermann’s dSLR User’s Guides:

This book, together with the manual that came with your camera, is all you need to start discovering all the potential of this camera.
-Max M.

It’s the first guide I’ve read which has taken me through all the settings in an understandable way. I now feel that I have control over the camera.
-Peter S.

I would recommend this to anyone who wants to get a quick start to using their camera. Manuals are nice, but this eBook highlights the important information and gives a quick easy to understand explanation of most all of the functions and controls.
-Ray M.

I found the (camera’s) manual good for understanding how to set things up but not much on the why – this book really focuses on the “why.” Prior to reading the book I was setting up my metering on Spot Metering thinking it was much better than Matrix (Evaluative) – the guide helped me understand why to use specific settings for specific needs. The Custom Settings sections helps to make firm decisions on how to apply settings by understanding the usage of each in addition to knowing how to set them up. I would like to thank you for saving me time – now I’m confident that my camera is well tuned!
-Benoit A.

This manual is a clearly written, concise and useful explanation of the rationale for the seemingly infinite and often confusing settings options. Used in conjunction with the (camera’s) manual I feel a bit more confident in understanding how to at last proceed in getting better photographs.
WLS

Your World 60D was originally, briefly titled Real World 60D. It is the same eBook. If you use the Canon Rebel T2i/EOS 550D, or Canon Rebel T3i/EOS 600D have a look at my eBooks for those camera, T2i Experience and Canon T3i Experience.

When selecting a new dSLR camera, many people seem to look at the latest offerings, attempt to compare their many features, and determine which one, in or near their price range, is “better.” But this is the backwards way to approach it. Of course a continuous burst rate of of 126 JPEGs at 8 frames per second is “better” than 58 frames at 5.3 frames per second. But do you need the ability to take 126 consecutive images in 15.75 continuous seconds? Ever? Certainly the ability to to control both the method and the sensitivity of AI Servo Tracking is impressive and powerful, but do you even understand it, wish to learn about it, need it, and will you ever use it? If a camera’s features don’t fit your needs as a photographer, it is not a better camera for you. In fact, it may be a worse camera for you because its complexities and options may serve to work against you and your image making.

Douglas J. Klostermann Photography
Iquitos, Peru

When you are trying to determine which new dSLR camera to purchase or upgrade to, you need to first consider and determine your needs, and then see which camera fills those needs. Not the other way around where you look at the new features and determine if you really need or will use them.

For example, I began shooting with a Rebel XT and took it on an extended trip where I shot lots of outdoor dance and festivals (see the Peru and Dance galleries here for the results – those are all shot with a Rebel XT.) I soon discovered this camera wasn’t fulfilling my growing needs and I made a mental list of what my next camera needed:

  • more focus points which are more strategically positioned (the Rebel XT only has 7 focus points in a simple cross pattern which did not suit the way I focus and compose)
  • faster frame rate in continuous shooting mode (it only has 3 fps which wasn’t good enough for catching a good burst at the peak of action)
  • better sealed body (I ended up in several very dusty or wet situations)
  • integrated sensor cleaning (see “dusty or wet situations” above)
  • more megapixels (the 8 MP of the XT just weren’t sufficient when it came to cropping and post-processing)
  • battery with longer capacity (I used it on weekend trips to the middle of nowhere with no electricity, but didn’t want to have to buy and take more than 3 batteries)
  • larger LCD screen to better review photos (the XT has a tiny screen)
  • grid in the viewfinder (I just can’t keep it straight sometimes)

Amazonia Shipibo Vendor
Iquitos, Peru

These are the features I looked for in my next camera. I didn’t work backwards and wonder, “Do I need or will I ever need auto lighting optimizer and highlight tone priority?” If I had exposure issues on my list, I would have looked for these kinds of features, but I didn’t. I didn’t wonder, “Do I need multiple flash remote firing? Should I worry about that?” That wasn’t on my list because it wasn’t a need I ran into, ever, in months of shooting. I don’t even own multiple flashes and wish to minimize using the one. I didn’t ask myself, “Do I need an extensively redesigned focus system with AF Point Expansion and Zone focusing?” I nearly always choose my own focus point – I don’t want the camera choosing the closest point which is bound to be a dancer’s flying hand and not their face, so I don’t need that. No matter how awesome and advanced it is, even if the subjects are moving. I’m pretty quick with the focus point selection, I just need more and better placed focus points. If you haven’t run into a need for certain features in your months or years of extensive shooting, you aren’t going to suddenly need it just because it is now offered on a camera. Sit down and make your list, then look at the cameras’ offerings.

And please be aware, no new camera will help you instantly create better photos. Or better yet, all of the latest cameras will help you take better photos, but equally so, none any better than the others. If you wish to take better photos, just chose one of the cameras and get out and shoot. Learn how to use the basic settings (aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focusing modes and focus points, exposure metering modes, histograms) and then concentrate on composition and telling a story through your images. Get a book like Bryan Peterson’s newly updated Understanding Exposure to get a handle on the essential functions and relationships of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.  Or have a look at my Full Stop e-book camera guides for various Canon and Nikon dSLR cameras!  And see the following posts to help you on your way:

How Pros Photograph

Deconstructing the Shot

Pucallpa kids and boat
Pucallpa, Peru

Need a lens to go with your new camera? Read about choosing a lens other than the kit lens in this post Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Kit Lens, and learn about the Best Lenses for Travel Photography here.

If you are interested in researching or purchasing the equipment or books I use, discuss, or recommend, I would appreciate it if you use this referral link to Amazon. Your price will be the same, and it will help support my blog and my work. Thanks!  And for those of you across the pond, click here for my referral link to Amazon UK. If you are in another country, click on one of my Amazon links, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click on your country for your local Amazon.

Digital SLR Camera Lessons

I am offering one-on-one, individual instruction (or small group workshops) in all aspects of digital photography in the Boston and Cambridge, MA area. I will create a unique lesson with you that can include topics such as choosing a new digital SLR or advanced compact camera and related equipment, learning how to use the various settings and features of your digital camera, photographic composition and taking stronger images, processing and editing your images in Photoshop, and preparing for photographing while traveling.  The lesson plan is up to you and is customized to your interests, needs, level of experience, and specific equipment.  Subjects will be explained, demonstrated, and practiced in ways you will understand, remember, and use.

Please view the Lessons page here, or under Lessons in the blog menu above, to learn more details.

Douglas J. Klostermann Photography Cambridge, MA
Central Square – Cambridge, MA – “Crosswinds” mural by Daniel Galvez

Learn to use your camera with confidence, get the most out of your digital SLR photography equipment, and learn to take better images. Get in touch with me at doug (at) dojoklo (dot) com or at 347-272-Seven Thousand.

I continue to get a large number of visits from people who are comparing the current line of Canon digital SLR cameras – the 5D Mk. II vs. 7D vs. 50D vs. 550D / T2i. I go into detail about comparing the features of these cameras in this post, including the 60D and T3i, so that is probably the post you want to read first. However, it is a long, in-depth post. If you would like to read a summary of how to make this decision and find out which camera is right for you, here it is (however, I still encourage you to read that in-depth post which is a bit more educational than this post).

Before I start I want to mention:

I have written eBook tutorials for the Canon 60D and for the Canon T2i, which cover ALL the Menu settings and Custom Function settings, with recommended settings, plus in-depth descriptions of how and and why to use the cameras’ settings and features in everyday use – Canon 7D Experience, Your World 60D, Canon T3i Experience, and T2i Experience. Learn more about the eBooks by clicking on their titles.

Longfellow House
Longfellow House – Cambridge, MA

-New to digital SLR photography and want a really nice camera for casual home and travel use? Not really sure what all those buttons and symbols are and not really interested in knowing? Get a 550D/ T2i or a Rebel XSi.

-New to digital SLR photography and want to take really great, high quality photos, but don’t ever really plan to totally get into it? Don’t really want to spend months reading about f-stops and metering modes? Plan to use Auto or Program mode most of the time? Fall asleep 3 minutes into reading the manual? Get a 550D/ T2i or a Rebel XSi.

-New to digital SLR photography and want to learn the basics of exposure: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO? Want to learn to take the camera off Auto or Program mode, and experiment with partial or spot metering and manually selected focus points? Eager to read and understand the often confusing explanations of the manual? Get a 550D/ T2i, or a 60D.

-New to digital SLR photography and want to learn everything noted above plus want to take pictures of fast moving action: kids at play, sports, dance? Consider a 60D because it can shoot 5.3 frames per second vs. 3.7 fps of the 550D. This doesn’t mean you can’t focus on and capture fast moving action with the 550D, but it means with the 60D you can fire off a faster rapid series of shots, and thus hope to capture the exact right moment.

-New to digital SLR photography but super ambitious and know you are going to be committed and dedicated enough to learn about exposure compensation and back-button focusing? Ready for Av mode now, and plan to really take your photography to the next level over the next year or two? Already read the manual online? Want to consider the possibility of professional photography in the future? Get a 60D or get a 7D if you are super-serious and if you can afford it.

-Experienced with digital SLR photography and have outgrown the limited speed and menu/ custom options of the entry level cameras? Annoyed with digital SLR users you see on the street whose cameras are nicer than yours but are left on Auto or P mode? Want to take it to the next level and maybe test the waters of professional photography? Get the 60D or get a 7D if you can afford it. Consider a 5D Mk II if you are really, really serious.

-Experienced with digital SLR photography and plan to be a top notch amateur/ semi-pro or work towards being a pro? Carry your camera everywhere and want a sturdy tool that serves you and the way you work? Already have been paid to shoot some photos, portraits, or events? Have stopped trying to read the model number of other people’s cameras because you know your photos are better than theirs even if they have a nicer camera? Get a 7D, or a 5D Mk II if you can afford it, or wait for the 5D Mk III.

-Highly experienced with digital SLR photography and are dedicating yourself to being a part-time or full time pro? Already know and understand 99.6% of what you read in this other post? Just looking for reassurance that spending $2,500 is the right decision? Get a 5D Mk II, wait for the 5D Mk III, or get a 7D if you really can’t afford the 5D yet.

Cambridge City Hall
Cambridge City Hall – Cambridge, MA

You may have been convinced by forums, reviews, or online comments to question and compare image quality, auto-focus speed, high ISO performance and noise, dynamic range, etc., but those factors are all nearly completely irrelevant. All of these cameras have more than enough quality in each of those areas. Your choice should instead be based on your experience level and expected needs as a photographer, and on which camera best serves the way you work. Remember, you don’t need a top of the line camera to take professional quality photos. Instead you need mastery of the camera you have, combined with good knowledge of composition and lighting. I encourage you to have a look at some Flickr users’ photos taken with an “old,” 8MP Rebel XT to confirm this. When you are done selecting a digital SLR body, you canread some of my other posts to learn more about the Best Lenses for Travel Photography or Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Kit Lens.

Canon 5D vs. 550D / T2i – I get an unusually high number of hits from people searching for a comparison of the 5D Mk II vs. 550D / T2i. As you can see above, there isn’t a scenario where those two cameras are together as options, as they are on opposite ends of the spectrum. It is a strange comparison between an entry level dSLR and a full frame professional dSLR that, quite frankly, confuses me. If the 5D fits your expanding needs as a photographer, you would already pretty much know that you needed a 5D after your extensive time using a Rebel or a 20D, 40D, etc. Otherwise, getting a 5D means most likely you’d be investing in far more camera than you will actually need or use. Read more about why I say that here and in the Other Important Custom Functions section here (this post is about the 7D, but it will give you a feel for how a 5D / 7D differs from a 550D in terms of features that you may need but probably don’t).

AF Microadjustment 550D / T2i, 60D – A lot of people also search for AF Micro-adjustment or focus calibration for the Canon 550D / T2i for back focus or front focus issues. Due to quality control issues, acceptable tolerances, or more rarely but not unheard of bad cameras, your camera and/or lens may focus a few notches in front of or behind the subject you focused on. If your camera happens to be 2 notches on the plus side and your lens 2 notches on the minus side, well, you are going to have some issues. While the AF Microadjustment feature is not built into the menus of the Canon 550D or new Canon 60D, here is how you micro adjust for front or back focus: send the camera and/ or lens to Canon while it is under warranty, with instructions to calibrate them. You have to pay for one way shipping and insurance (+/- $30 for one item depending on weight and coverage). Ask them to include a detailed report of what the issue was and what service they actually performed (otherwise they just repeat what you wrote and say “lens was front focusing – electrical adjustment of AF mechanism” and you don’t know if it was the camera, the lens, or your mind that was off). Then send a letter to Canon asking them why a brand new expensive Canon camera paired with a brand new expensive Canon lens that you just bought does not focus properly, and why you have to pay $30 to send it immediately back to them to fix it. This process also applies to the AF Microadjustment of the 7D, 5D, and 50D and soon the 60D. It is best to first determine if the camera or the lens is the culprit, by testing the lens on another body or the body with another lens, but it may well be a combination of both since each lens and camera is uniquely faulty. See this great post, “This Lens is Soft and Other Myths” on LensRentals.com for more info on this.

If you are pretty new to digital SLR photography and you decided on the 7D, check out this really great book I recently came across while browsing the photo section at a bookstore: Canon 7D: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Nicole Young. I think you’ll learn more from it than most other how-to photo books and expanded manual type books. Even if you have another Canon and not a 7D, you’ll still find it helpful for learning how to really use a digital SLR to take better photos. She is currently working on a version of the book for the 60D, Canon 60D: From Snapshots to Great Shots.
canon 60D great shots

And I, myself, have written eBook user guides for the Canon 7D, Canon 60D and for the Canon Rebel T2i / EOS 550D. You can learn all about them here:  Canon 7D Experience, Your World 60D, plus the mini-guide to the 60D Menus and Custom Functions (excerpted from the full version of Your World 60D), and T2i Experience.

Need a lens to go with your new camera? Read about choosing a lens other than the kit lens in this post Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Kit Lens, and learn about the Best Lenses for Travel Photography here.

Please leave a comment, ask a question. Let me know what has been helpful, and what you’d like to read more about.

If you plan to purchase any of this equipment or books, I encourage you to do so through the site I’ve set up with Amazon, Doug’s Picturing Change Digital Photography Equipment and Books or through this direct link to Amazon.com. Purchasing through any of these links to Amazon.com, or the ones below, will help support my blog and my work. Thanks! And for those of you across the pond, click here for my referral link to Amazon UK. If you are in another country, click on one of my Amazon links, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click on your country for your local Amazon.
See the T2i on Amazon.
See the 60D on Amazon.
See the 7D on Amazon.
See the Canon 5D MkII on Amazon.

When I began my work in travel, culture, and humanitarian photography I spent a great deal of time scouring websites, reading forums, checking reviews, making lists, and agonizing before I finally settled on which lenses were best for my needs and my work. So hopefully all my effort can help you save some time and assist you in your research in selecting which lenses are best for you. In addition to travel, humanitarian, and photojournalism work, much of this advice will apply to general photography as well. After you’ve learned all about lenses here, you can have a look at this other post to see what other camera gear and accessories you might want.


Open Windows, San Miguel Duenas, Guatemala

The easy answer to the question of which lens is best for travel photography, right up front, is: an all purpose zoom that goes all the way from wide to telephoto, like an 18-200mm, or a standard zoom like a 24-105mm. See the Standard Zoom section and the One Lens For Travel sections of this post for more information about these. The more difficult answer to that question is addressed in detail by this post. The most difficult answer to this question is: it depends. It depends on you. It depends on your level, interests, and goals as a photographer. It depends on what you most enjoy taking photos of and what type of images you aim to capture. Hopefully this post will help you figure that out, and I’ll address this most complicated answer more at the end of the post.

The primary sources for me in determining which lenses to choose were looking at the websites and blogs of other photographers who do similar work, since they often list and discuss the equipment they use. The initial and most helpful source for me was Karl Grobl, since his work as a humanitarian photojournalist is closest to what I do and what I aspire to do. But some of the other ones I can recall looking at include David duChemin – (who is a travel, art, and humanitarian photographer – he seems to have moved or deleted his “Gear” page), plus Nevada Wier and Bob Krist – both dedicated travel and cultural photographers. Oh, and the books and advice of the ever-enthusiastic Rick Sammon helped out along the way. I then applied what I learned from them to my specific photographic interests, preferences, and tendencies (which can be summed up with the fact that I typically like to zoom in close). In other words, if one of them favors a 50mm prime lens but you know you prefer the versatility of zooms, then adapt what they say to your needs.

For me and many others the ideal combination is a wide angle zoom, a standard (or middle range) zoom, and a telephoto zoom. (If you are interested in just one lens for travel, have a look at the Standard Zoom section, and then also jump down to the bottom of this article for the One Lens for Travel section.) I’m going to stick to the professional level lenses and compare the Canon L lenses first, and discuss other Canon lenses in the One Lens for Travel section below. I’ll try to keep it short and simple, and let you conduct further research on the countless sites dedicated to equipment and reviews.

Click on each lens below to link to its page on Amazon.com. If you plan to purchase any of this equipment from Amazon (or other equipment, accessories, or anything else), I encourage you go to Amazon.com by clicking on the links found throughout this post, and then Amazon will give me a little something for the referral, which will help support my blog. Thanks!

If you wish to first try out a lens before buying it, click on this link to go to BorrowedLenses.com, where you can get great prices on short-term rentals of any lens as well as the latest Canon and Nikon dSLR bodies (as well as video, audio, and lighting equipment).

If you are in the UK or wish to purchase from B&H, Adorama, or direct from Canon see the information at the end of this post for those links. The lenses I chose, which work best for my needs, are indicated by (Y). I apologize to the Nikonistas out there, since all of these lenses are the Canon variety. However, Nikon typically has an equivalent lens for each of these. Just search for the same focal length and have a look at the aperture and price to determine the comparable Nikon (Nikkor) lens. For example here are some equivalents:
Canon 16-35 f/2.8L to Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8
Canon 24-70 f/2.8L to Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8
Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS to Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 VR

Check out this post to better Understand Canon Lens Notations – the significance of all the various numbers and letters in a lens name.

Wide Angle Zoom
As humanitarian photojournalist Karl Grobl says, this is the “bread and butter lens” of the photojournalist. This is used for up-close-and-personal shots, for environmental portraits or photos, and for “story-telling” images which include multiple subjects or a larger context.


Open Windows, San Miguel Duenas, Guatemala

EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM (Y)
pros: slightly wider on the wide end which is good for cropped sensors (7D, 60D, Rebels), larger maximum aperture (“faster”) for use in low light situations or for more dramatic depth of field
cons: high price, heavier in weight
notes: get the slim UV filter to avoid vignetting, especially if using a full frame camera like the 5D
filter: 82mm slim filter fits this lens.
notes: The above two images of this post were with this lens. This is the wide angle zoom I chose because I wanted the “faster” f/2.8 aperture to be able to use it effectively in low light situations.

EF 17-40mm f/4L USM
pros: more zoom on the far end, lighter in weight, much lower price
cons: f/4 maximum aperture not as “fast” and slightly less dramatic for shallow depth of field, not quite as wide on the wide end
filter: 77mm slim filter fits this lens.

Standard Zoom
This is a great “walk-around” all purpose lens, especially for travel or everyday photography. If you want to head out on the streets with just one lens, this is the one to take which will serve you well in most situations you encounter.


Panajachel, Guatemala

EF 24-70 f/2.8L USM (Y)
pros: larger maximum aperture (“faster”) for use in low light situations and more dramatic depth of field
cons: heavier in weight, higher price, less zoom range, no image stabilization
filter: 77mm multi-coated filter or 77mm coated filter fits this lens.
notes: a great all-purpose walk-around lens, though relatively big and heavy. I discuss using this lens, with several photo examples, in this post here.

There is a new EF 24-70 f/2.8L II USM lens plus the new EF 24-70 f/4L IS USM lens, both with the same focal length as above.  The first one just listed is an improved, lighter version of the 24-70 f/2.8L, and the second one listed adds Image Stabilization but has an f/4 maximum aperture rather than the f/2.8 maximum aperture of the other 24-70mm lenses. Adding these two new lenses into the mix makes this an even more challenging decision in the Standard Zoom category!

EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM
pros: lighter in weight, image stabilization which will help you gain 2 or 3 stops in speed vs. hand-held non IS (*see below), more zoom range, lower price
cons: f/4 maximum aperture not as “fast” and slightly less dramatic for shallow depth of field
filter: 77mm multi-coated filter or 77mm coated filter fits this lens.

* this means for example, if the proper exposure of a scene is 1/60 at f/5.6, and you want to hold on to that f/5.6 aperture for compositional reasons and not have to sacrifice your chosen depth of field for a faster shutter speed, you could capture it without blur, whereas without the image stabilization (IS) the hand held image may have been blurry.

Telephoto Zoom
This is a great lens for portraits, close ups, details, ability to zoom in and capture something far away, sports and action shots, and ability to create dramatic depth of field or blurry backgrounds. There are four versions of the Canon 70-200mm lens – either f/2.8 or f/4, each with or without image stabilization (IS). Oh wait, there are now five versions, with the recent Mark II version of the f/2.8 IS. I think with a lens this long and heavy, you need image stabilization if you are going to be hand holding it, so I will ignore the non-IS versions.


Solola Market, Guatemala

EF 70-200, f/2.8L IS USM
pros: larger maximum aperture (“faster”) for use in low light situations and more dramatic depth of field. The Mark II version of this has a closer minimum focus distance and improved optics
cons: very heavy, very large, higher price, especially the new Mark II version
filter: 77mm multi-coated filter or 77mm coated filter fits this lens.

EF 70-200, f/4L IS USM (Y)
pros: lighter weight, smaller, lower price
cons: f/4 maximum aperture not as “fast” and less dramatic for shallow depth of field
filter: 67mm multi-coated filter or 67mm coated filter fits this lens.
notes: This is the telephoto zoom I chose. I sacrificed the one-stop of aperture for the much more manageable size and weight of the f/4. And since I primarily use it outdoors, and because it has image stabilization, the f/4 aperture only really affects the extent of background blurring. There are several example photos of this lens in action in this post here and also more nice example photos in this post here.

I haven’t used each of these lenses in the field, though I have briefly tested most of them, so my decisions and my pros and cons are sometimes based on my research and from what I’ve learned from others who use them. Consider them starting points for issues you want to consider in your selections. And while there are endless discussions and comparisons regarding image quality, sharpness, sweet spots, etc. for each pair above, I will stay out of that discussion and tell you there are highly regarded professionals who use each of these, that any Canon L series lens is professional quality, that price and/ or largest maximum aperture will often indicate the one that is generally considered “better,” and that you will never regret your choice based on these concerns. Note that many L-series lenses are sealed against and dust, water and weather. Sometimes a front filter is required to complete the weather sealing, such as with the wide angle lenses. I suggest always using a clear, protective UV filter with any lens, preferably a high quality, multi-coated B+W brand filter. If you don’t want to spend that much, at least get a high quality single-coated B+W filter rather than a cheaper Tiffen filter.

When making your choices, I highly recommend going to a store with your camera and actively testing and comparing each pair. The difference in size and weight, and even feel of the lens in your hands, is often dramatic and may help you make your decision. If you are still undecided, rent one for the weekend and work with it. And don’t think that you have to immediately get three lenses in order to do your work. Karl Grobl uses just two of them in his work, and that hasn’t limited him in either humanitarian or travel work. Consider your primary needs, and buy one or two based on that, and combine them with less expensive non-L lenses for now.

If your budget or needs don’t call for L-series lenses, see the One Lens for Travel section below, or look for the closest equivalents of the above lenses in other Canon or Sigma or Tamron, etc. lenses (or in the Nikon lenses if you are over in that camp).

Prime Lenses
Many photographers rave about prime lenses (lenses of a single focal length, that don’t zoom) for many reasons, including image quality, the purity and simplicity of working with them, and their large maximum apertures (as wide as f/1.2) for very dramatic compositions through use of shallow depth of field. The focal lengths I see used most often are (these are obviously Canon examples):

Canon 35mm f/2
Canon 50mm f/1.8 II (high image quality for about $100!)
Canon 50mm f/1.4 (Y) (a little more costly, but higher quality 50mm)
Canon 85mm f/1.8

Take into consideration if you have a full frame or a cropped sensor, since with a cropped sensor 7D , 60D, or 550D the field of view of the 50mm lens will be closer to an 80mm lens on a full frame 5D camera (or a 35mm film camera), so the field of view of a 35mm will be closer to a 50mm on a full frame or 35mm film camera.


San Miguel Dueñas, Guatemala

One Lens for Travel
I know a lot of people are interested in finding just one lens that is good for travel photography. As I mentioned above the best option is typically the standard, mid-range zoom. Look above for info on the Canon L-series lenses. My choice would be the EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM. For something less expensive Canon offers a couple other great options. For each of these lenses, I would highly recommend getting the optional lens hood (the hood comes with L-series lenses). It helps shade the lens to prevent unwanted lens flare (although lens flare can sometimes be used for a great effect when desired), helps protect the lens from bumps and drops, and makes you look cooler and more professional! And of course always get a good quality, coated B+W brand UV filter for protection – or at least a cheaper Tiffen filter. However, there is a significant difference in the clarity and lack of reflectiveness of a coated B+W filter vs. a standard Tiffen filter, which you can see if you look through them side by side, so those who are concerned about image quality should go with a coated, or better yet multi-coated B+W filter (designated MRC). Also, note that non-L-series lenses are not nearly as well sealed against dust, water and weather as most all of the L-series lenses are.

EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
pros: less expensive, lighter weight, image stabilization
cons: less zoom range on the telephoto end than the 18-200mm, not a constant minimum aperture like the L-series lenses (the f/3.5-5.6 means your largest aperture at the 18mm wide end will be f/3.5, while the largest aperture at the 135mm telephoto end will be a less dramatic f/5.6), not higher quality USM focusing motor, EF-S means this lens can only be used on cameras with the APS-C sensor, or non-full-frame sensors, so it can be used on all Digital Rebels, 20D-50D, and 7D, but cannot be used on a Canon 5D. However, that means it is optimized for those cameras, especially for the wide end.
Lens hood EW-73B fits this lens, and a 67mm coated filter or 67mm filter.
This is currently one option for the kit lens for the Canon EOS 60D, and is a good choice if you are debating between the kit lens or not.

EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
pros: more zoom range on the telephoto end, image stabilization, better image quality than the 18-135mm lens.
cons: more expensive, heavier weight, not a constant minimum aperture like the L-series lenses (see above lens), not higher quality USM focusing motor, EF-S for APS-C sensor cameras only (see above lens).
Lens hood EW-78D fits this lens and a 72mm coated filter or 72mm filter.
This is currently another option for the kit lens for the Canon EOS 60D, and is an excellent choice if you are debating between the kit lens or not.

EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
This is an older lens that seems to have been replaced for the most part by the two lenses above.
pros: less expensive, image stabilization, USM means a faster, quieter auto-focusing motor and full time manual focus (which means you can override the auto-focus by turning the focus ring without having to switch the lens to MF manual focus), EF so can be used with both APS-C and full frame cameras too if you have or wish to upgrade to a 5D.
cons: not a constant minimum aperture like the L-series lenses (see above), less range on both the wide and telephoto ends.
Lens hood EW-78BII fits this lens and a 72mm coated filter or 72mm filter.

It Depends
The actual answer to the question of which lens is best for travel photography is: it depends. As I said above, it depends on you – on your level, interests, and goals as a photographer. It depends on what you most enjoy taking photos of and what type of images you aim to capture. If you are a photography novice, or just want to be able to capture all or most situations, the all purpose zoom or standard zoom might serve you best. But if you wish to capture more of a certain type of photo that you like, photos that match your specific visual ideas and preferences, you need to reconsider. Do you like sweeping vistas and all encompassing environmental portraits? Do you typically want to capture the entire scene in your shots? Then perhaps a wide angle zoom will work better for you than a standard zoom. Certainly, you will be limited and not able to frame certain shots the way you might want, but you will capture more of the types of images you like, and might simply have to move in closer than usual to get some the other images. Do you like extreme close-ups of people’s faces with dramatically blurry backgrounds, architectural details on buildings, the look of compressed perspective? Then a telephoto zoom rather than a standard zoom will help you capture more of those images you like. Sure, you will not be able to get the wide angle view of spaces, but you might succeed in capturing many more of the dramatic photos you like. Or perhaps you best work like a classic photojournalist and want to capture scenes and portraits more closely to how you see them. Then a single prime lens like a 50mm or 85mm might be the one lens that is perfect for you.

The Best Lens for the Canon 60D
A lot of people ask, “Which is the best lens for the Canon 60D, (or the 7D, or the 550D/T2i or the 5D)?” There isn’t a specific lens that is best for a specific camera. I hope you’ve already learned that from reading this post! A lens will perform exactly the same on each of those cameras or any other camera with an APS-C size sensor. The effective focal lengths will be different with a full frame sensor dSLR, such as the Canon 5D, but they will still be wide angle zooms, medium zooms, etc. The best lens for your camera is the one that is best for you, your work, and the types of photos you take. That being said, the kit lens that Canon has paired up with the 60D, the EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS is an excellent choice for an all-purpose everyday and travel lens. See the EOS 60D with the kit lens on Amazon here.

For related posts, check out other entries in the Lenses Category, the Humanitarian Photography category, and my posts about Fixed vs. Variable Aperture Lenses and Choosing a Lens beyond the Kit Lens, as well as my discussion and recommendations for gear for travel photography.

Purchasing: As I mentioned above, if you plan to purchase any of this equipment, I encourage you to do so by clicking on the links of each of the lenses listed above, which will take you to that page on Amazon.com. Or go directly to Amazon using this link or click on the Amazon logo below. If you purchase through these links, Amazon will give me a little something for the referral, which will help support my blog. Thanks, I appreciate your support!
Amazon.com

If you are in the UK, you can click here for the UK Amazon referral link. If you are in another country, click on one of my Amazon links, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click on your country for your local Amazon.

For those interested in purchasing from B&H Photo, Adorama, or direct from Canon, please click on their logos on the Gear page. Thanks!

Renting Lenses: If you wish to first try out a lens before buying it, click on this link to go to BorrowedLenses.com, where you can get great prices on short-term rentals of any lens as well as the latest Canon and Nikon dSLR bodies (as well as video, audio, and lighting equipment).

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The Digital Photography Review is an excellent site for news, reviews, and forums relating to digital photography equipment.  They address cameras and lenses from all manufacturers, and their in depth reviews of new cameras thoroughly cover every aspect, and usually go on for over a dozen pages.  Their forums are also an great place to find answers to your questions or concerns about specific pieces of equipment.  I typically check the first page each day to keep up with the latest news and see what has been recently announced or released.

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