The main purchase I was looking to make was a new tripod, but while I was browsing, I decided to look into a prime wide angle lens, too. Seeing that a good amount of my work behind the camera is really geared towards landscape photography, it really make sense to throw some money towards a faster lens aimed at getting those wide shots with much more detail than the standard zoom lens that came with the camera.
In High Demand
Maybe it’s a very popular lens, or perhaps they manufacturing of them has slowed down quite a bit, but the original lens I was looking at was sold out on Adorama, B&H Photo, and Amazon. That lens would be the Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 Lens. It had decent reviews on all three sites, and seemed like an entry level wide angle lens that fit my current price range (below $250).
Just as I was about to give up on grabbing a wide angle lens for the trip (in just 2 weeks), I came across a refurbished version of the Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 Len on Adorama. The lens normally goes for over $300 brand new, but this one was knocked down closer to my price range so I decided to roll the dice and add a new piece of glass to my bag. I haven’t ordered anything refurbished before, but with a 90 day warranty, we’ll see how it works out.
Up to now, all of my bigger landscape shots have been taken with my standard 18-55mm f/3.5-5.5 zoom lens that comes in the basic new camera kit. While 18mm is pretty wide, the components of a zoom lens and the fastest aperture of f/3.5 still can’t compete with the speed of an f/2.8 lens and the fixed state of a prime lens. It will be nice to have both as an option in my camera bag.
The New Tripod
I’m embarrassed to admit that I still use some clunky old aluminum tripod that I picked up at Best Buy about 6 years go. Initially, my wife was using it for video taping hockey games when I was coaching, and I just put it to work for my photography. Less than ideal, and not very travel friendly, I knew I was due for an upgrade if I didn’t want to be laughed off the island during the workshops on Maui.
So, after getting over the initial sticker shock of just how much these things cost, I bit the bullet and handed over the cash. Because I was buying all this through Adorama, I went with their house brand, Flashpoint, after I had seen an ad for it in a copy of Digital Photo magazine, too. Again, being budget-minded, I could have gone down the name-brand path for about the same price, but not one of the carbon fiber variety, which is billed as being much lighter and travel photographer friendly.
I ordered the components of the tripod separately, which looks like a common practice based on the reviews I read. First up were the tripod legs, of which I opted for the Flashpoint F-1128 model. Again, carbon fiber, so the specs have it weighing in at under 3 pounds.
Next up, was the ball-head mount, pairing the legs with the Flashpoint F-2 Ball Head with quick release. I haven’t used a ball head mount before, but everything I’ve read about them says they are they way to go in terms of positioning and total control. Again, there are many other options out there, but price being a factor for me, this was the first one I’m trying out.
Lastly, I noticed this ball head mount didn’t have a bubble level on it, so I threw in some money for this neat little Bubble Spirit Level. It is supposed to slide right into the flash hot shoe on top of my camera (in this case, my Canon 20D and Rebel XSi), and seeing that I’ll be doing more of these shots outdoors and during the day and not using my Speedlite on the wider angle stuff anyway, it seemed like it would be useful.
A Quick Trial Run
Because I ordered it over the weekend and qualified for discounted priority shipping, the goods should be here this week. That gives me some quality time this weekend (and Labor Day weekend to boot) to give the new gear a trial run. No definitive plans yet as to what or where I’ll be out shooting, but as the plans for the 3-day weekend firm up, I know I’ll have to find some excuse to bring the camera gear.