New Twist on an Old Question.

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mark_haydon, Sep 17, 2011.

  1. I posted before a question about upgrading my camera body or my glass. I got a lot of very informative information back. Thank you to all, I appreciate ALL the responses very much. I think the number one thing I probably realized is:
    (1) I need to know my kit a little better than I do now ... I've never run it through a test excercise of varying focal lengths and apertures. That will probably tell me a lot. (There's every chance my percieved shortcomings are operator error!)
    (2) I need a good tripod
    (3) I probably need to invest in some software - I don't do any editing at the moment.
    I have a lot of research ahead of me and it's going to take some time. Reading reviews of glass and bodies is fun - but just when you think you landed on "IT" ... something throws a spanner in the works!! LOL ... I guess thats fun and challenging.
    What I would like to ask now is simple - I'll lay out all my kit, and based on a $2K budget - What would YOU invest in? Forget my skill (or lack of) as a photographer - forget what I like to photograph - what would you spend your $2k on?
    Here's the List:
    D80 body
    18-135mm 3.5-5.6 Nikon Kit lens.
    50mm 1.8 Nikkor lens.
    Tokina 100mm 2.8 Macro Lens
    Sigma 120-400mm 4.5-5.6 Lens
    Proline Aluminium Tripod (no additional mount/head).
    (No editing software)
    This really is not meant to be a "Tell me what to buy" thread ... I need to work that out for myself and I think I have been put on the right path by what I have read and the feedback on the other thread ... this is more a curiosity for me ... given exactly the same kit and budget restraint - what hard choice(s) do you make? LETS SAY the budget is $2,200 which will then cover the Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 VRII lens which I know a lot of people like!
     
  2. Quite aside from your actual question,
    There's every chance my perceived shortcomings are operator error!​
    is a terribly important moment of 'truth'. Grasshopper, this is the start to the road of wisdom! Each of us must finally realize this possibility. ;)
    Your list sounds OK to me, but I'll let current Nikonistas speak to the specifics, although I will say that you should also consider the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro for the Macro component.
    There are nice reviews of many of your lens choices at Photozone.de
    At some point you have to make the existential decision, and just leap in and buy and start shooting.
     
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Forget my skill (or lack of) as a photographer - forget what I like to photograph - what would you spend your $2k on?​
    Unfortunately, typically there is where the real issues are. When you attempt to ignore that and resolve it with equipment purchase, you will get nowhere.
    In other words, there really is no "new twist." I am afraid that you have already heard about all you need to know on your previous thread: http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00ZL04
     
  4. Shun - I think you miss the point. Or choose to believe that I am so spinless and pathetic I really do need someone else to make a decision for me. I appreciate your input on the other thread - that was a lot of help. Here you seem to be saying a giant f.u.
    I don't know how I can spell it out any clearer that I believe I need to examine my ability with the kit I have before making a decision for myself. Somehow you choose to ignore that.
    00ZLSz-399239584.jpg
     
  5. I don't want to now give the impression that I don't need to examine my technique and ability/learning ... but I want to post a few images that I feel at least show that I can take a 1/2 decent image....
    00ZLTF-399241584.jpg
     
  6. Another example (if its possible to post multiple images at once I am missing it).
    00ZLTL-399243584.jpg
     
  7. If you are not a pro on assignment but some (advanced) amateur with 2K I would buy the best possible glass that fills your interest. Choose your favourite: wide-angle, mid-range, short-telephoto, long-telephoto, macro or perspective correction.
     
  8. Last one....
     
  9. Mark,

    Rent the lens for a few days. If you like it and think it's worth the 2K then buy it. If you dont like it, save the money for
    something else.

    And regarding tripods. Manfrotto has inexpensive tripods. $100-150 range. I've never understood the need to buy very
    expensive tripods. If I were pro and had customers to pay for it that would change, I suppose.

    You have virtually the whole shebang with your existing lenses in terms of focal lengths. Don't know what you're after there.
    Special purpose lenses might be something to spend your play money on, say a PC lens or macro.

    I wouldn't consider doing digital photography without Photoshop and Lightroom.
     
  10. Sorry - I guess I should not have posted. I am not looking for what I should do. I have that information .... I was merely interested in what others would do. It's a bit like looking at your favorite baseball players (or cricket for me) of all time and coming up with a list and then comparing it to someone elses ... Or talking about the greatest boxers of all time ... you know, just sort of chewing the fat.
    Aprecaite your responses - but as I tried to spell out above, and again here - I am not looking for advice for myself on this thread.
     
  11. Well that is very difficult, and I don't see how my opinions would be of much help. Personally my two favorite lenses are the 24mm & 85mm F/1.4G lenses. I've used them extensively on both DX and FX bodies (D7000 & D3s respectively) and I love them both on both bodies, and if I had to two choose two lenses to shoot with the rest of my life it would be those two lenses. But I can hardly see how my opinion benefits you. Because in your shoes, I would proceed to sell everything else to get those two lenses. Most people don't like being stuck to two primes, most people like zooms for the obvious flexibility.
    So the real question here is, Who are you as a photographer?
     
  12. "...I was merely interested in what others would do."​
    Assuming that the $2k budget is for equipment only, and that other considerations such as software and training to improve my technique are either budgeted separately or otherwise accounted for, in the same position, given the same equipment you've specified...
    I'd use the $2k to either upgrade to a D7000 or a fast f/2.8 midrange zoom. Even a D90 would be a step up from the D80 for my personal preferences - mostly available light candids, so I could use the better high ISO performance. With a D90 I'd still have money left from the budget for a fast third party midrange zoom. If I didn't happen to need the fast midrange zoom, I'd consider a good ultra-wide zoom if my interests happened to run that direction.
    I'd also consider TTL flash with wireless capability. I've gotten a lot of good use from the SB-800 and could use one or two additional wireless TTL flashes.
    I might even consider selling or trading the Sigma 120-400mm 4.5-5.6, since I wouldn't personally have much use for that lens. But if I did happen to need that lens - such as for occasional wildlife photography in fairly bright daylight - I'd upgrade my tripod, head and get a suitable quick release mount. A lens like that is only as good as its support.
     
  13. Lex... appreciate you answering the question in the spirit in which it was intended! Your budget does not need to cover the flash!! I didn't list it but I do have the SB800!
     
  14. Mark, you say:
    (1) I need to know my kit a little better than I do now ... I've never run it through a test excercise of varying focal lengths and apertures. That will probably tell me a lot. (There's every chance my percieved shortcomings are operator error!)​
    ...and you ask us what we'd do with $2,2K to invest in new equipment.
    Ok. If I were in your position I'd consider that my first shortcoming was in the post exposure steps, as in the digital era you really need software...and to review my the computer set to know if it is up to the task of edition...probably not, as both processing power and color correction workflow were not most likely a consideration before entering this new world.
    Assuming this, and even at US prices, my investment budget would not leave that much to invest in photographic gear, after setting all my post production up.
    Would it be a big problem? I don't believe so and for sure I could spend a considerable amount of time before my camera and lenses could be a real issue...and by then I would be in a position to invest on the units needed to achieve the goals the present one could not make.
    But this would be my case not yours, as my present needs are not yours and so will be the future ones...but as a matter of fact you seem to already have an advantage there when you say "I am not looking for what I should do. I have that information".
     
  15. Hmmm.
    2 Grand in my hand, and what would I get ? I'd step up the camera, just because I like low light stuff. Depending on the prices I find for the other things, I would try to get a D7000 ( $1199 ) but be willing to go to a used D90 ( $639 in LN- grade KEH ). Because I like scenics, I might replace the 18-135mm with something. ( I know, at scenic apertures, does the lens really need to be THAT great ? ) Maybe the 16-85mm f3.5-5.6 for $569 LN- from KEH. That's $1768. Then .... Since I have been looking to get a ball head, a PhotoClam PC-44NS for $269. ( Gotta have something to hold the 120-400mm lens ! ) Total ....$ 2037 ... Of course, if I sold the 18-135mm The money would help pay the sales tax.
    That gives me a lens coverage of 16-85mm, 50mm, 100mm ( and Macro ), 120-400mm. Not really missing a lot in that mix.
    Software ? Just start out with a copy of Photoshop Elements.
     
  16. Mark,
    John's suggestion can be a good starting point, as PS Elements cover a large number of photographers real needs, the weakest point probably being the short cuts in the version of ACR that comes with it.
    You can even use some open source programs like raw converters and, for instance, THe Gimp for editing. I can't be more specific as I don't know what kind of computer system you use.
    But if you want to be serious about Color Management Workflow you will notice that it will require a much stronger investment than just the bill you'll pay for Elements. And CMW is of key importance for any digital photography setup.
     
  17. i love spending imaginary money....
    firstly sell the Sigma 120-400mm and Nikon 18-135mm, replace with a tamron 17-50 and sigma 50-150 2.8. get a manfrotto tripod. and lightroom (if you are in education you can get it cheap).
    to go off on a different tangent, i'd then by an epson r2880 printer, set it up with a continuous ink supply, and a color munki.
     
  18. You're interested in what I would do? Not at all sure why, but here goes. I would sell EVERYTHING on your list. Everything. It won't work for what I like to do. Here's what I would buy. Body=Nikon D7000. Lenses=Tokina 11-16mm f2.8, Nikon 17-55mm f2.8. Tripod & head = Gitzo & AcraTech. I would then spend all of what is left on about ten Nikon SB-28 flash plus lightweight 13 ft. lightstands, and ten CyberSync radio triggers.
    Here's what you don't yet get. You selection of gear, especially lenses, determines what you can photo. I am a night photographer and my speciality is photo'ing moving trains at night. I need wide, fast lenses and tons of flash power. Do you need to light up something like freight trains at night with flash placed up to 200 yards away? IF so, my gear list would likely work for you. If you are a wildlife photographer in Florida, my gear choice would totally NOT work for you.
    You are going at this TOTALLY backwards. It doesn't matter if a 70-200mm f2.8 VR is supposedly a great lens or not. What matters if it's the best lens for what YOU do. The way to decide is to NOT ask what others use, but rather carefully think through what you want to shoot and what conditions. If you shoot macro you will need totally different stuff than a guy shooting high school football at night under field lights. Simply asking ME what I would buy does you NO good at all, unless you like to photo trains at night. Your approach should be something like, "I want to shoot macros of insects in the field outdoors. What works?" Or, something similarly specific. Just asking what we would buy doesn't work. We all shoot different stuff so we each have different needs.
    Kent in SD
     
  19. That aluminum tripod sticks out like a sore thumb. Your posted images were still life, but in bright, some might say harsh light, a matter of taste to others. So, maybe one could get away with a high shutter speed or hand held under those conditions.
    Consider a professional ball head for the pod. A Really Right Stuff, or a Markins, or a Kirk, or an Acra Tech or the like. Find out what a "sweet spot" is when using a pro ball head. It changes everything.
    At that point, your tripod will become your best friend rather than a nuisance that gets left home in the closet. I have a Gitzo and a top ball head, and I love the combination. The tripod for the rest of my life. Lately there have been a few complaining that Gitzo standards are failing. Really Right stuff seems to be making the current premier carbon fiber pod in the eyes of those.
     
  20. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Lately there have been a few complaining that Gitzo standards are failing. Really Right stuff seems to be making the current premier carbon fiber pod in the eyes of those.​
    I have been using Gitzo carbon fiber tripods since they introduced the first 1228 in the mid to late1990's. I bought my 1325 in 1999 and last year bought a 3541XLS, which is essentially a 1325 with an extra lower section that I can optionally use. At least I haven't noticed any quality decline, after Gitzo moved production from Franch to Italy perhaps a decade ago.
    For whatever it is worth, a good friend of mine bought a Really Right Stuff tripod and according to him, the legs are not holding up that well as his tripod has collasped a few times. To me, that is a big no no.
    To Mark the OP, in your previous thread I asked you why you needed to upgrade from the D80 to D90, and I don't think you provided an answer. My suggestion is forget about cameras and lenses for now. As Kent mentioned above, what he wants to spend $2000 on should have little to do with you should do. If you don't have a good tripod and head, go for that. Your money is better spent on classes, workshops, and training. I bought my first SLR almost 40 years ago, and today, I still try to attend a class or two every year. E.g. PhotoShop training comes to town a couple of times a year and if it is a new topic, I usually attend.
     
  21. What would I do with $2k and your equipment list? I'd buy a ticket somewhere that I'd always wanted to see and go shoot it. For me, photography has been a way to better see the places I go. At the moment the place I most want to go see that I haven't is Barcelona.
    That's just me. By the way, as this is me, I also have a completely different kit, but that is because I shoot differently than you do.
     
  22. I think what this question comes down to is, "given my list of equipment and $2000, what would I need to get, to make my stuff more like your stuff?" So I'll just say which stuff I get the most use out of, even though this isn't really that useful an exercise since I likely don't shoot quite like you shoot:
    D7000
    F100
    28-75/2.8 Tamron
    50/1.8 AFS
    35/1.8AFS
    18-105 DX
    70-300 VC Tamron
    B+W (or Calumet, made by B+W) multicoated UV filters on those.
    There's some overlap in that list because it's covering both DX and film and sometimes I'm carrying both, and aside from the D7000 and the filters I usually go with budget conscious gear. If I had it to do over I wouldn't have got the 18-105, but instead would have hung on to the Sigma 17-70 lens I used to have or picked up the new OS version of it. Also, when the mood strikes, I'll use an F3, 50/1.4 AIS and more recently 28-105 Vivitar S1, or Minolta XD11 with 50mm or 45mm MD or Vivitar 28/2.5. The XD11 and 45mm and a Rollei X-70 are, interchangeably, my small cameras that go with me in case I want to shoot something, and I have a Tiltall Traveler tripod I use sometimes, though most of the time my shooting doesn't lend itself to tripods.
     
  23. I'll "third" what David and Shun said about tripods. I see them as essential. Buy a GOOD one, and a GOOD head. Those you will keep for over a decade. A lens is only as sharp as the tripod is solid. I too have the Gitzo 1325 & AcraTech ballhead. I bought them nearly ten years ago. Even though the 1325 was upgraded a few years ago to a new model, the 1325 is SO perfect I've just kept on using it. David is spot on by saying a really GOOD ballhead will change your whole photo experience. Spend about $500 here, minimum. Seriously, it will make a difference.
    I've come to see photo gear as a SYSTEM rather than just pieces. All of the pieces act together to do what you want to accomplish. Within the system I see categories which are: (1) solid tripod/head (2) Lenses (3) software (4) camera (5) flash/lighting. Looking at where you're at so far, the biggest weaknesses I see are lack of good tripod/head and lack of software. Software has become crucial to modern photography, and is maybe 30% of it?
    The single most important thing is to really, really learn LIGHT. Learn what to do with different kinds of light. Learn to recognize its different qualities such as color, harshness/softness, angle, and so on. Once you learn how to use Light, you will be able to make great photos with any gear. All of us have probably been greatly distracted by gear at one time or another, but really it all comes down to using the Light well. Learn to previsualize the image in your head first, so you know what you want. You then simply select whatever gear will capture that. It's really that easy. :)
    Kent in SD
     
  24. Regarding Gitzo durability, Arnold Crane and Lloyd Chambers have published their complaints about glued feet falling off the end of the tube or leg parts separating. Another example, the aluminum pin on which the legs rotate from the plate was cited by Digital Lloyd as a weak point; RR uses a steel pin for the same function.
    I love my Gitzo, and I take it everywhere. But, I no longer take it for granted that they are the top of the pyramid.
     
  25. Total coincidence. On the Luminous Landscape, some time in the last few days.
    Mark Dubovoy on the RR and Gitzo experience.
    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/accessories/is_this_the_worlds_best_tripod.shtml
    OK, I am done with this topic. The OP needs to take classes and buy software, and learn it. That exercise will answer his question ultimately, IMHO. As for myself, I am hoping that my Gitzo does last me the rest of my life. If not, I will look at Gitzo again for another top end carbon fibre tripod, but not just Gitzo.
     
  26. I appreciate everyone's input.
    I don't know why so many have a hard time with the concept of this thread. I am not asking for you to help me. (Again - that might sound like I don't need the help ... thats not the case)
    I was interested in hearing people's thoughts about what they would do. And - yes - I am sure I am way to caught up in the GEAR more than is needed. Thanks to the couple of posters who answered as intended !!
    I liked Joel's answer the best 'buy a ticket to someplace I'd always wanted to go and see' ... made me smile even if it didn't make anyone else smile.
    Ken - your comment about harsh light may well be the root of my issue. I live in Arizona and I think 90% of my photos have been in full sun and not in the warm morning or evening light. Obviously there's more to it than that - and I need to learn and get better working with whatever I have to work with.
    - - - If anyone is interested, I have (based on the first post I made the other day) decided to buy a good tripod - and finaly get some software. I may be getting a free copy of Nikon's 'Capture' ... If that isn't sufficient (or intuative) I will purchase Elements 9.... Obviously I need to do a whole lot of research if I am splashing out $500 or so on the tripod. I had thought I was going to get a Silk Pro 500 HD at about $150 - it gets great reviews but I also found Tom's article on Tripods http://www.bythom.com/support.htm and need to make sure i get this right! The other thing I am going to do over the next week or 2 is test out all my current lenses and see where they are crisp and if/where they are soft.
    Shun - sorry if I didn't give you a specific answer on the other thread. I did mention that your thread was a helpful. My issue with photos is Light - many images are too pale and I need to look at the WB and custom options/settings on my D80 before giving up on it. Not all images are affected - but more than I like to see. Also with the 18-180 lens many images are seem soft. Great when I am taking portraits of my daughter - not what I am looking for on the landscape, streetscape or wildlife photos.
     
  27. But Mark, you said:
    Lex... appreciate you answering the question in the spirit in which it was intended! Your budget does not need to cover the flash!! I didn't list it but I do have the SB800!​
    That mean that you expect the answers to be realated with your current gear/situation.
    In my particular case, if I would had 2K, I would buy a Nikon 12-24/4 and keep the rest in the bank waiting for my next purchase. Being an amateur doesn't force me to buy all the stuff at the same time.
     
  28. Well if I had 2200 euros to spend on camera gear I would buy the used Zeiss Ikon or an M6 plus a 35mm Biogon 2.8C or a Collapsible 50mm Elmar and spend the rest on TriX or a used enlarger.
    Now as this is the Nikon forum and you really want to know about digital cameras, I have a D80 and I don't like it as a camera, sure at low ISO the image quality is great but in all honestly I prefer my D1h in terms of camera body. I have a Tamron 28-75 2.8 and that lens suits me fine, so as far as digital cameras go I would just buy a used D300 put my 28-75 on it and be happy. Maybe I would even settle with a used D200 and have more money to spend somewhere else.
     
  29. I looked at your sample shots (80mm/120mm equiv, 135mm/202 equiv and 50mm/75mm equiv). I have looked at what you have in the way of lenses.
    I would buy the 70-200 VR II. It is a best-in-class lens and is a lens that I have no trouble hand holding over a full day (but you need to check this out for yourself).
    I shoot sport, and if I can do it handholding a lens, that will always be my preference. It's my style (and preference) when shooting sport. The reason I have told a bit about what I shoot is so that you can appreciate my personal bias. I need lenses that can blur backgrounds.
     
  30. This shot taken yesterday is what I mean by bluring the background.
    00ZLcJ-399437584.jpg
     
  31. The above shot was at 380 mm, but if the play was close enough for me to shoot with my 70-200 VR II the bluring of the background would have been even more.
    The comment that Shun made "Your money is better spent on classes, workshops, and training" will always hold true over time. My needs are very specific and my choices of lenses limited for what I shoot. But any system that would allow me to shoot lighter, without loss of image quality and over a wider zoom range will always be of interest to me. But everything in photography involves compromise and when you are buying equipment it is your job to optimise these comprimises in accordance with what you shoot and how you shoot. And every link in the path needs to be quality matched with respect to lens, camera body, editing software and final output (be it on digital screen or printed).
    So getting back to your question and if I had your gear (and not mine) ...
    The 70-200 VR II is what I would buy (for me).
     
  32. Mark,
    What I'd do with $2200.... hmmmm....
    1. AF-S 35mm f/1.8 or Sigma 30mm f/1.4.
    2. Tokina 12-24mm f/4.
    3. Sell the 18-135 and get the 16-85VR instead; not really needed but I like the 2 extra wide millimeters and there is plenty of budget to waste!
    4. Capture NX2.
    That would fill the gaps that to me would be annoying me most and basically get the majority of photos I make - but for sure compared to my current bag, I'd miss some pieces. Since I left a lot of money in the budget untouched.....the reviews I saw of the Sigma 120-400 are not that stellar, so I might slowly consider upgrading there. But I never used the lens myself, hence I'd keep this a bit open ended.
    (side note: quite often questions are phrased as you do "what would you do with x amount of money if you have camera Y and lens Z, and typically those are questions for help. So I do understand many interpret this thread differently; maybe your question would have worked better in the Casual Photo Conversations)
     
  33. Just to answer the question and not discuss gear philosophy.
    I'd sell the D80 and the 18-135 as a kit.
    I'd get a D7000 and Tamron 17-50.
    I might do more, as I love Ultra-wide. I don't know if I'd like that Sigma beast, but I know I'd keep the 50 and the 100. I might add a 35mm f1.8 if I liked to shoot low light a lot.
     
  34. I'll spend imaginary money.
    Given your kit (without selling anything) in rough order of priority:
    Lightroom would top the list (< $100 for educators/students)
    Monitor calibration ($100)
    13" Printer (You can get some huge MIRs on these, so lets say $300)
    Light stand/umbrella/etc for your flash ($100)
    Photography book (no idea what you already have, but lets say $40)
    Wide lens (Sigma 8-16 or Tokina 11-16, $600 ish used)
    Faster normal lens (35 f1.8 or Tamron 17-50, depending on how much I liked your current zoom - $200-$400)
    Faster tele (80-200 f2.8 - if you shop around (a lot), I've seen them go for $600 used)
    A second flash (no idea what they're going for used right now... I'm assuming the price is changing due to recent discontinuations - you'd have more than enough left, though)
    Well, now I want to go buy more kit! I think I'll go practice with what I already have, though...
     
  35. Mark,
    On the topic of tripods.... Keep in mind that Thom Hogan is a pro shooter and HIS needs or demands of a tripod may be a lot higher than yours. A D3 with a mega lens in going to weigh a lot more than the lenses and camera you have or may be looking at as an upgrade. He may shoot a lot more as well. So ruggedness and stability are going to be more of an issue. Of course, if you plan on following in his foot steps, so to speak, his advice may be very true. However, if you are NOT, then the general idea of buying a good tripod and head still works, but the LEVEL of that and the costs will not be necessary. My goal is to find out my heaviest setup and then over kill on the specs. I don't want to be near the end of the support weight at any point. If you can get to a real photo store and try out some stuff, that would probably be a BIG help.
     
  36. Thanks John ... I agree. At the moment I have found a couple of options in the $150-$170 range that have good reviews and I feel will be more than enough for quite some time. I have no delusions that I am going to turn into a pro any time soon. Just a hobby that I am enthusiastic about.
     
  37. Mark,
    One thing that I would look for, since I tend to cart my tripod around a lot is the weight. I have a Slik 700DX Pro and it works well, but, it does weigh me down, toward the end of the day.It weighs 6 pounds.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/168060-REG/Slik_615_900_700DX_Pro_Tripod_Legs.html
    I know a decent carbon fiber one probably comes in at about half that weight, but they also cost 3 times as much and more ! To some, that is a perfectly justifiable increase in cost. As an amateur, it wasn't going to work for me.
     
  38. Thanks! Thats one of the tripods that is on the list! Yes its heavier - but I figure that I can live with that. Also on the list is the Slik 500HD ... and the other cobo I was considering was Slik tripod legs with a Giottos MH5001 head. Each option is about 6lbs .. and I am not spending 3x for lighter legs, just not worth it for me.
    :)
    I didn't want to start asking a question on every piece of equipment I buy so I was working on this myself!
    00ZLqW-399677584.jpg
     
  39. What would I do with $2200 and your equipment list?
    I would keep these:
    1. D80
    2. 18-135mm.
    and trade in these:
    • 50mm 1.8 Nikkor
    • Tokina 100mm 2.8 Macro
    • Sigma 120-400mm 4.5-5.6
    • Proline Aluminium Tripod
    towards:
    • better IT setup
    • printer
    • SB700
    • 40mm micro (better for the small-studio repro work I sometimes do)
    • 70-300 VR (small light lens for birding. 'My' Sig 120-400 was just too much lens ;-) )
    • tripod, ballhead, softbox, stand, pocket wiz
     
  40. Mark - I 'nicked' one of your images as a screensaver - the third posted of the glass 'fronds'. I have learned it is the organic lump behind the lens that makes all the difference, good kit helping but not compensating for skill as you so rightly pointed out. As to my selection, I have a 16-35, 24-105 and 70-200 plus 1.4 convertor. I have a Canon flash - used remotely to help fill with the in-built unit on my EOS 7D and an ancient tripod bought with my Olympus OM10 plus 50mm I had as a student. The latter was great with a manual adaptor fitted, the 7D only now having replaced it and the EOS 10D as my favourite camera bodies. Well done on your pictures. I have a shot taken my then 10 year old son that he took with my 7D plus 70-200 of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. It fills my 27" iMac screen to perfection. Good kit helped him but he had to frame and capture the shot and it is something some of us never really get right!
     
  41. Tripod Legs?
    I love macros and I could shoot flowers all day​
    For macro work it's often good to use a tripod with a short minimum height. Check the height specs on the tripods you are considering. What will work for you? -- 25" minimum height, or 2.8" minimum height?
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/504846-REG/Manfrotto_055XB_055XB_Tripod_Legs_Black.html
     

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