Thoughts on photography

I hadn’t really made up my mind on whether to buy a new camera for our trip until I learned that I was going to Africa. I am, I knew that I was going to Africa, I just hadn’t really thought about being able to do a safari or anything fancy. Honestly, I hadn’t really thought about Africa because it really scares me, but that’s another story. So, when I learned that Travis’ family was meeting us somewhere in Africa to do a safari in style, that’s really when it clicked.

What’s the point of going on this whole trip, of doing all of this, if I’m not taking the opportunity to really fulfill my passion for photography. I would really regret leaving the safari with sub-par photos of far away lions and dodgy colours. Photos are really important to me, so right there and then it finally made sense. I had to move to a DSLR camera.

Am I happy with my decision? Yes and no. Yes, because it will mean that I will finally be less lazy about my photos and actually think before shooting. It also means that I’ll get better results. No, because I worry about the weight, the bulk, the changing lenses, and yes, about having it stolen. And the cost. But things have changed a lot since my last trip – they have become a lot more predominant and having one around my neck now isn’t as flashy as it was 5 years ago. The camera I traveled with last time was a $900 one, yet it made it back with me OK. Yes, it will be different but once I figure it out, I’ll get used to it and make it work. And I know that the result will justify everything.

But now that I decided to make the jump, I don’t know what my next move should be. Frankly, I’m stuck and the existentialist question of Canon vs. Nikon. I’ve been reading on the both of them and I think that I’m even more confused now before I started… and I need direction. I’m considering the Canon EOS Rebel T2i (550D) and either the Nikon D90 or D5000.

Here is what I am hoping to shed light on:

  • Which brand did you choose, and why?
  • What should I keep in mind?
  • Is there anything that I’ve just got to have?
  • Do you have any tips or recommendations for traveling this type of equipment?

Any help, comments, direction is much appreciated!

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About Magalie

Canadian girl living in Texas, off to see the world when she can!
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8 Responses to Thoughts on photography

  1. nikita says:

    I went Canon many years ago, and so far, have not lived to regret it! Originally (in 2004), I chose it for two main reasons: I liked the interface, and more importantly, I found the physical body of the then-new Rebel more comfortable in my hand’s grip than the available Nikon options. Since then, I believe Nikon also has a number of great options – but once you go down the lens path… it’s for.. life?!? At least it’s a bit of a commitment. And like I said, no regrets.
    I recently purchased a 2nd body to add to my repertoire, which is the T2i you are considering – and so far, I love it. I also looked at the 7D, but with the same processor and at half the cost (though also half the frames-per-second as its big cousin), I figured I would put the extra grand into a new lens eventually. It’s classic Rebel – trustworthy, easy to use and flexible; the most exciting and impressive feature I’ve discovered so far is the impressive ISO capability – I’ve pushed it up to 3200 in the almost pitch dark with pretty good handheld results – and in low light (2 weeks ago at 9pm) and with subject motion (baseball game), it’s downright startling how well it does.
    Though I don’t own it, if I were to travel with one lens, it would probably be something like an 18-135mm (T2i comes in a kit with this f/3.5-5.6 (something like that) at London Drugs for $1399) or if I could afford it, similar but faster (lower f stops), of which Canon also makes a tempting range! There’s also a great 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6… Would give you the wide angle for landscapes etc and a bit of zoom to get close to some things.. that way you’re flexible but not fussing around with lots of lenses. And you are quite a pro already (!), but I would spend some time experimenting with on-camera flash (as well as knowing how to manipulate flash intensity) and tricks you can use to soften it with tissue etc. in a pinch versus lugging around an external flash – so heavy, takes batteries.. and there’s so much you can do with night shots without it – especially with 3200+ ISO!! Anyway, just my 2 cents.. I have no doubt whatever you decide will produce amazing and envying results!! Bon voyage! Looking forward to the updates 🙂

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  2. Magalie says:

    Thank you Nicole, that’s really good info! I’m glad to hear that you’re liking the T2i.

    It will be hard having to learn to compromise with lenses… there’s a beauty in the simplicity of having 1 camera / lens do it all with the regular digital cameras. As much as I love my macro and my 18x zoom on my current camera, I really don’t see being able to afford it or anything similar on DSLR.

    Why can’t I have the best of both worlds??? 😛

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  3. Dave Purton says:

    Hey Mag,
    At the higher end of either range the only difference is personal preference, However with the cameras you short listed the Nikons have the edge (D90 in particular) but only because of the quality of the lenses that come as standard. If you can afford to go slightly higher in either range, D300 or EOS 50D you’d be much much happier as they are classed as pro/semi-pro cameras and as a result everything is much better quality and they use CF rather than SD cards, which are much more reliably and if the worst happens and a card gets corrupted you can (usually) recover more data than with SD cards.

    As for tips on travelling with DSLR’s. Always have at least one fully charged spare battery ready to use, rubber camera armour (ugly, but protects your camera and makes it look nondescript) gorillapod tripods are fun, cheap, useful and small, a small can of pressurised air especially if you’re going to be changing lenses in dirt dusty environments (African desert!) and an absolute must is fitting a UV or skylight 1B filter to all your lenses. They protect you lenses from dust, finger prints, water and all other damage, filters are cheap, lenses are not!

    As for lenses, try to keep these to a minimum. Whatever camera you end up buying try to get it with an 18-135mm zoom (or something close to that) as it’ll cover most situations and then leave buying a longer lens till you get to Hong Kong as they’ll be much much cheaper. Don’t worry about not having a digital zoom as long as the shot is taken with a decent lens with enough pixels behind it, you can zoom and crop later.

    At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what camera you buy, it’s you that makes the biggest difference to the quality of your photo’s. You are very talented and will always end up with amazing photo’s, even if you use Travis’s $5 walmart camera 😉

    Dave x

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  4. Magalie says:

    Thanks Dave!

    The 50D doesn’t do video (so it’s out) and the D300 is out of my range. I was actually thinking about my budget last night and I had a little panic attack – I’m seriously going to have to make a list of what I’d have to get in order to go the DSLR route and see if I can afford it… I very well might not be able to. Or at least, I might be unable to justify the expense vs. risk of having everything lost / stolen / broken… big decisions ahead!

    Thanks for the rubber armour idea, I never heard of it before! And you’re right about the cropping – there’s plenty of room in any of those cameras for that!

    And another Nikon plus – they have a GPS you can attach to it! Hehe!

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  5. Magalie Narang says:

    Hi Magalie!
    I’m also a passionate photographer in the Nikon camp. Usually, it just begins with people starting on the low end with either Nikon or Canon and sticking with it all the way through. But, I do prefer the build quality of Nikon’s much better; I can be clumsy. But to be honest, Canon has a larger variety of lenses in lower price ranges. Nikon is geared more to the high-end professional and so people will save their money for really superior lenses.

    But…for a much more experienced photographer’s opinion, and one that has been in both the Canon and Nikon camps, check out one of my fav photo bloggers:
    http://karenrussell.typepad.com/my_lifejust_not_on_the_ro/photography_tips/

    Happy travels & happy shooting,
    Magalie
    So. Cal.

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  6. Magalie Narang says:

    Go with the D90 and a really awesome lens. No kit lenses though, in the long run they aren’t worth it. A good zoom with a as close to f/2.8 or f/3.5 and the 50mm 1.8 (Nikon, US$100 bucks and it’s such an AWESOME lens). Even the 35mm 1.8 is very nice.

    Nikon has a lens finder tool that helps you pick which lenses you can use with each camera body.
    http://www.nikonusa.com/Find-Your-Nikon/Camera-Lenses/index.page

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  7. Ashley says:

    Maggie – if you want, I can put you in touch with Uncle Jim. He’s the pro and always tells be exactly what i need in a fair price range. His whole life is photo club….let me know.

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