Buying a gift for a friend

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by joshuasigar, Dec 20, 2010.

  1. Hi, I'm looking for advise on buying something for a photographer friend of mine. She shoots portraits (couples, families) and this is what she currently has: canon 30d and 28-105. Say I have two grands (somewhat flexible), what should I get her? I did ask if she wanted a certain lens but she didn't mention one (probably she doesn't know enough?).


    FYI, I'm a Nikon guy so I know photography but not Canon line. Maybe I should buy her nikon stuff (since her camera is discontinued, right?) so that we could lend each other stuff :p?
     
  2. A couple of grand gives a whole heap of choices. The 24-105 IS will provide a definite step up and has constant f4 for creative control. A wider angle zoom may make it easier to shoot families within the confines of a room and you could go for the Canon 17-55 f2.8. Or something slightly longer such as the 70-200 f4LIS can be used for portraits but give opportunity to do other things as well. For primes you have the cheap but very effective 50mm f1.8, the 85mm f1.8.
    For purely portraits my choice would be the 17-55 and the 85mm f1.8 (and maybe the the 50mm thrown in because it is so damned cheap it is almost criminal not to take it).
    Moving away from lenses there are flash units such as the 430/580EXII, maybe with the Strobies attachments (or similar). Or two flashes with a slave unit plus some reflectors. Or if she has the room, you could even look small studio kits.
    I think the choice is too wide to be definitive with the information given.
     
  3. I disagree that the 50/1.8 is worth buying because it's so cheap. For that kind of money you could get a manual flash and start experimenting. Depending on how cheap you go with the flash, you could likely even get some cheapie radio triggers for the flash. You could buy a decent polarizing filter. A UDMA enabled CF reader to speed things up. You could buy a 5-in-1 reflector and some stands. You could buy a decent ball head or nice tilt/pan head. If it's of no use to the person in question, there's no sense in spending the money on it. And that's the thing, with the information the OP provided, we don't know enough to make any recommendations. Take a look at her photos, see what she does mostly, and go from there. Talk to her and see what she'd like to improve on. From there you can figure out what gear might work. What focal lengths does she use with the 28-105?
    While a 50mm-ish lens is a great portrait lens on a crop sensor camera like the 30D, most manufacturers 50mm lenses aren't known for being great portrait lenses (typically they have rather unpleasant out of focus areas). There are some great 50s out there, but neither Canon nor Nikon's 1.4 and 1.8 50s are in that group (IMO). In the manual focus arena Cosina makes the Voigtlander 58/1.4 which I have in Nikon mount and love (they make one for Canon bodies too). Nikon's got their manual focus 50/1.2 which can be adapted to a Canon body easily enough, and Canon has their autofocus 50/1.2 (but it's pricey). Canon, Nikon, and Sigma all have very nice, fast 85mm lenses… but you run the risk of the lens being a bit too long for more than single person shots on an APS-C body. IMO for portraits you'll want something faster than a variable aperture (or a constant ƒ/4) zoom.
    For two grand you've got a lot of options. If your friend's only investment in Canon gear is an old body and a cheapie zoom lens, sure, why not consider other alternatives. Two grand could get you a low end Nikon (D5000) and some really nice glass (Sigma or Nikon 85/1.4). You could do a Pentax K-5 w/ kit zoom and the Pentax 77 Limited. But don't write off the 30D just yet. If she's happy with the features it has and its ergonomics, it will work with all of the newer Canon lenses (and probably flashes).
     
  4. $2,000 is a nice gift!
    I think I would upgrade bodies, say a Canon 550D and some prime lens for portraits, - 50mm, 100mm, Sigma 30, etc.
    Or like you said, - buy Nikon so you could share!
     
  5. Get her an Adorama or B&H gift card (through the links here) and let her choose! Lightroom3 software would be a good "in-hand" gift and will improve her life no matter what camera she uses.
    I agree with the Canon 85mm 1.8 ($369) great portrait lens and maybe a 70-200 IS F/4($1200), along with the highly rateD Tamron 17-50 2.8 9($450).
    All those choices add up to about $2k so there you go!
     
  6. I wouldnt upgrade bodies to a crop sensor or give any EF-s lenses only because she shoots portraits. Full frame is probably the body for her. Maybe a used 5D with a 85mm 1.8? makes the most sense to me since she shoots portraits. You can also pitch to get a 5D mark ii body.
     
  7. I like the idea of 17-55, 50, and 85. All those will autofocus on her camera, right? Can someone make sure I got the right models? Thanks.
    50 http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/12140-USA/Canon_2515A003_50mm_f_1_4_USM_Autofocus.html

    85 http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/12182-USA/Canon_2519A003_85mm_f_1_8_USM_Autofocus.html

    17-55 http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/425812-USA/Canon_1242B002AA_EF_S_17_55mm_f_2_8_IS.html
    ****
    Can her camera trigger 430/580EXII remotely (with pop-up flash) because she did like it when I used off-camera flash?
     
  8. Sorry. Accidental double-post.
     
  9. That sounds like a very generous gift! :)
    Given the amount of money you are considering spending, the fact that she is a photographer friend and presumably has some notions about what equipment she wants, and that you don't know much if anything about her preferences - coupled with the fact that Christmas is coming up very quickly - I would consider two related possibilities:
    • As mentioned previously, get a gift certificate to one of the major online photography retailers or, if there is one that you like, a local photography retailer that is well stocked, knowledgable, and customer friendly.
    • Perhaps make the present include some help making decisions about what equipment she really wants, presuming that she wants that sort of advice and that you are prepared to offer it.
    If you knew just what she wanted/needed, it would be a simple matter to get that for the gift. Or if she were not a photographer herself, you could probably just get an entry level kit (t2i plus kit lens, etc.) or even a good P&S. But as any of us who are serious about photography know, the equipment desires and needs can be quite specific and it would be easy for a well-intentioned gift-giver to make a costly mistake!
    The gift certificate provides some other important advantages, too. Imagine that the "giftee" had been saving up for some lenses, but really wanted some particular camera - but couldn't afford both so had compromised on lenses or body. With the gift certificate in hand, she might be able to apply that money to getting a "dream kit" that costs more than the amount you would spend and end up with something extra special.
    Good luck!
    Dan
     
  10. Me: By the way, can I buy you a new lens, if you're thinking doing portrait for a long time that is?
    Her: Please Josh!
    Me: Which camera you have again? Also which lens you need? not sure if you do portraits more or weddings
    Her: I have the canon 30d. I enjoy portraits more than anything. I have 28-105mm lens. pretty standard. Dude you are awesome!​


    That's what went on facebook. So I have the perception she knows not much about gear. I gave her lightroom but pretty sure she's been using photoshop. I just want to give here somewhat industry standard gear for portrait and make her learn it. But I'll confirm again if she wants to pick her gift or let me pick for her.

    I just offer this yesterday and I'm not really worried about getting the gift by Christmas.
     
  11. Indeed, there is great potential here for you to spend a lot of money on exactly the wrong piece of equipment. Your generosity is commendable, but the execution will be fraught with peril.
    [[if there is one that you like, a local photography retailer that is well stocked, knowledgable, and customer friendly.]]
    The above is very sound advice. I would get her directly involved with not only the decision making process but in talking with experts who can better evaluate her needs. Or, have her create an account here and post some of her images. Have her try and evaluate what it is about her current images that she needs help with that a "portrait lens" will solve. Without knowing her style, or how she likes to work, it's difficult to give an truly useful suggestion.
     
  12. Well, we are the experts :) trying to evaluate her need.
    I know you guys don't know much about her but you know common portrait lenses.
    I know there are other areas she could improve on without buying gear like post processing, finding good locations, etc. But I don't want to make her read books or attend workshop because that's huge commitment on her part and she's pretty busy.
    So I was thinking giving her fast lenses will improve her photos automagically (let's not have debate on this one) and she'll have fun shooting wide open like you all hate :).
    Anyways, this is what she said just now.
    Me: So you want me to pick the lens for you? Or do you have one in mind?
    Her: you pick. i trust you.​
    I'll make sure to include the gift receipt just in case. Thanks for all the recommendation. I'm getting 17-55, 50, and 85.
     
  13. [[Well, we are the experts :) trying to evaluate her need.
    I know you guys don't know much about her but you know common portrait lenses.]]
    That's like me asking you to recommend a truck for a friend who "likes trucks." You might know a lot about trucks, but how could you make a valid and useful recommendation based on that information alone?
    [[she'll have fun shooting wide open like you all hate :).]]
    Who hates shooting wide open?
     
  14. All of the current Canon stuff will autofocus just fine (until Canon decides to change the mount… again). I don't know about the Canon 85/1.8, but I couldn't stand the bokeh on Nikon's 85/1.8. So much so that when I bought myself my holiday gift, I went with the Sigma 30/1.4 for wider portraits and other usage. The 85s I liked just weren't in my budget. We'll see how that works out. The manufacturers' fastest 85s are optimized for portrait usage, their 1.8s are not. Consider swapping one of the Canons for a Sigma. The 50 would be well within budget, but the 85 might be hard to find in stock because it's so new.
    A quick search indicates that the 30D won't be able to control a wireless flash on its own. While you could use a wireless commander liket he ST-E2 (a la the Nikon SU-800), if you want the most flexibility a flash + some radio triggers might be a better option. Strobist had an entry about some cheap radio triggers that speak Canon TTL, and if you want to spend the money there's always the PocketWizards.
     
  15. You've settled on some good lenses. I would suggest you skip the 50mm (as it overlaps with the 17-55 which is a sterling lens, by the way) and get her a flash. Or, ideally, have her sit down and help her evaluate what she'd like to achieve with her portraiture before splashing out 2 grand. I would be loathe to spend that on someone who doesn't yet know what they need, photographically speaking. It's your money though, so...
     
  16. I would suggest you skip the 50mm (as it overlaps with the 17-55 which is a sterling lens, by the way) and get her a flash.​
    I guess that's a good idea. Bounced flash is already a lot of improvement compared to pop-up flash. I'll let her get her own wireless solution. And I got pocket wizards, too, so she can borrow them.
     
  17. She's a minimalist - she has what she needs and works with it. Don't forget, some of the best photogs in the World use fixed lens cameras :)
    Maybe a lens isn't the way to go. Maybe a flash system? Lights? Backgrounds? I don't know - the other stuff that portrait photogs uses besides their cameras.
     
  18. Well, we are the experts :) trying to evaluate her need.
    I know you guys don't know much about her but you know common portrait lenses.
    I know there are other areas she could improve on without buying gear like post processing, finding good locations, etc. But I don't want to make her read books or attend workshop because that's huge commitment on her part and she's pretty busy.
    So I was thinking giving her fast lenses will improve her photos automagically (let's not have debate on this one) and she'll have fun shooting wide open like you all hate :).
    Sounds like you've made up your mind... about something. Just wondering a little bit why you asked us for advice... and then discount it pretty much from the get-go...
    If you believe that fast lenses will "improve her photos automagically," then get whatever you want to get. How's that for not debating?
    Dan
     
  19. I'd get her a diamond ring ;-)
     
  20. Sounds like you've made up your mind... about something. Just wondering a little bit why you asked us for advice... and then discount it pretty much from the get-go...​
    Regarding fast lenses, yes, pretty much I wouldn't give her another kit lens. My final pick was based on the recommendation if you followed the thread. Sure I came up with some criteria along the way and I'm sorry for failing to mention that from the get go. I don't shoot portraits nor Canon, that's also why I asked. If I wanted to give her Nikon landscape lens, I wouldn't create a thread.
    I'd get her a diamond ring ;-)​
    Heh, she's happily married and I'm friend with the husband, too.
     
  21. Oooops, I meant a lens with (diamond?) aperture ring :p
     
  22. I would suggest buing a Canon 100/2.8 IS macro instead of 85/1.8. P
     

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