So you are going to shoot Canon…

Christmas is right around the corner and we thought we would put together three new blog articles this week.  One each about the brand choices you make when you decide to get something more than a Point and Shoot camera.  On Friday, Cory is going to cover mirrorless cameras as he is the Sony shooter among us.  Wednesday, Ben is going to tackle Nikon and today I’m going to tackle Canon.

First off, are any of these three camera bands better than the other.  Yes.  And No.  That’s not the answer I’m supposed to give right?  Like Apple versus Android, Mac versus PC, or Ford versus Dodge, I’m supposed to defend Canon to the death, right?  If you come to these three articles expecting that then you are going to be sadly disappointed.  To be sure, Canon gets a lot of things right, but so does Nikon and so does Sony.  You’ll certainly hear Ben and Cory extol their virtues later in the week.

So if they each have their good points, how did I end up with Canon?  A friend of mine had one of the Canon EOS Rebel film cameras in high school and I got to use it when we were working on yearbook together.  So when it came time to get my first DSLR I naturally gravitated toward the Canon.   When that first DSLR died in 2011, I could have switched to a different system at that point.  Well, mirrorless really wasn’t that big of a thing back then.  Photography is a very expensive hobby.  I already had a couple of lenses and a flash….and I guess I could have made the switch at that point.  But I wasn’t ready for that kind of financial hit.  To be honest, I really can’t understand how people like Cory can go from Canon to Olympus and then to Sony.  But then again I’m no where near the photographer Cory is.  So when he says that the Olympus and Sony are giving him more than he could get elsewhere, who am I to judge?

Now that all the preliminaries are out of the way and you either are already a Canon shooter or are soon to be one.  Where do you start?  I’m going to assume that if you really are a pro photographer and are in the market for the Canon 1D line of cameras there’s no reason for you to be reading this article at this point.  You really have three choices…..the entry line is the Canon T6.  You can get a nice basic kit for under $600 that comes with an 18-55mm lens and a 70-300mm lens.  If you are just starting out, this isn’t really a bad choice but you are going to run into the limitations of the camera pretty quickly.  The next step up from that is the Canon 80D for double the price of the T6(I bought my camera several years ago, the 60D I have is equivalent to the 80D that is out now).  What do you get for the step up?  The 18-135mm lens that comes with the basic kit is much better than the 18-55 in the T6 kit I mentioned above for one.  The body on the 80D is weather sealed so if you get caught in a bit of the elements you are more protected (though the camera is not water-proof and you won’t be taking it underwater anytime soon).  The next big step up to the 80D is in the number of images the 80D can get at a time.  The T6 can only get you 3 frames per second while the 80D is more than double that at 7 frames per second.  This is a great feature when you are trying to get a lot of shots (like say on the Kilimanjaro Safari) or tracking fast action shots.  
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If you have money to burn, you can always give the Canon 5D mk IV a shot.  At almost triple the price over the 80D you the 24-70mm f/4L lens, a larger LCD screen, even more megapixels, and a ton of video capability.  If you aren’t going to be shooting video the 5D Mk IV is probably not the camera to get your first time out.

If you already have a kit set up and are looking for your next lens purchase in the Canon line, a lot of that depends on the kind of shooting you like to do.  Getting the Nifty-fifty for just over $100 is the no brainer.  Yes you most likely have this focal length already covered but the f/1.8 is what you are really looking for.  If you want to get shots on dark rides or in shows like Festival of the Lion King like the shot below you need a lens with a faster (lower) aperture number.  Canon also offers a Canon 50mm f/1.4 and a 50mm f/1.2L.  I’ve never shot with the f/1.2L (although Cory has), but the f/1.4 is a great lens.  The only question you have to ask yourself is it better enough to spend the additional $200.  I’m quite shocked actually that the f/1.4 lens is down to $300.  When I first looked at the lens a few years ago it was over $400 which was hard to justify.  But at $300 the extra low-light capability is extremely tempting.  If you like shooting in low light situations, the 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 is a must.

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Another great lens is the Canon 70-200 IS IIf/2.8 lens.  I don’t own this one but I’ve rented it twice.  I love this lens and if I had the funds (if anybody reading this wants to get it for me for Christmas, I won’t say no).  The lens is huge and weighs a ton.  You might think that it’s kind of long for theme park photography but 200mm is quite fun for parades and close up shots of the animals on the safari.

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If you have all that then you might want to look at a tripod.  I have the MeFoto Roadtrip which has since been replaced by the MeFoto Roadtrip Air.  A tripod is a must if you plan on taking fireworks shots.  Since the camera is going to be open longer you need something that will keep the lens steady.  I reviewed the MeFoto Roadtrip here. I’m hoping to hear back from someone from MeFoto about getting a review unit for the Air to see how the new model compares.  The Roadtrip is still available on Amazon, so you can always go with the original model I have.  The new model is half the weight of the original Roadtrip which is a big plus.  But the maximum drops from 17 pounds to 13.2lbs and the maximum height is 4 inches shorter at 61″.  The weight probably isn’t an issue.  My Canon 60D and even a big lens like the 70-200 would still be ok, but I’m not sure I like the idea of the shorter height.  I’m tall (at 6’3″) and when you are trying to shoot over crowds out in front of Cinderella Castle for Wishes every inch on your tripod counts.

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If you (or the person you are buying for) has the camera and lenses covered there are a lot of smaller gifts you can get that are must haves in any camera bag.  I’ll make this quick as this article is already getting quite long.

  • There are tons of places where tripods aren’t allowed (thankfully Walt Disney World isn’t one of them, but Tokyo Disneyland is) or times where you don’t want to bring your tripod into the park.  Thankfully there are garbage cans and other flat surfaces throughout the park and there’s the Green Pod to support your camera.
  • This was probably the best $7 I’ve ever spent on photography.  Yes most modern cameras have a built in electronic level, but this little hot shoe mount level is a great little addition.
  • If you want to shoot fireworks, you’ll probably want to use an ND filter.  They come in different sizes for different lens.  We always recommend getting the largest ND Filter available.  Then you can get a set of step-up / step-down rings like these ones.  Now your ND filter (and any other filter you get) can fit on any one of your lenses.

The links you see in the article above are Amazon affiliate links.   You don’t pay anything extra for the gear I talk about but the site gets a small commission to keep things running.  I look forward to reading Ben and Cory’s pieces later this week.

 

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