Despite a mad rush from the airport to La Jolla Cove to catch the sunset, the San Diego trip went pretty well. Got what I think are some good sunset shots, and some beach night shots that turned out really well. On the wildlife side, I managed to get some good seabird shots just before sunset and a number of close up seal and sea lion shots in the morning. I’m still working on a large backlog of photographs, but I’ve included a teaser shot above. Enjoy!
Part of my job at the company where I work entails going down to San Diego every four months or so to meet potential candidates for our engineering department. Being a graduate of UC San Diego, this is a bit bittersweet. It’s great going back and seeing old friends, visiting my favorite Italian coffee shop looking out on the Pacific Ocean at sunset, but my visits are always far too brief.
Fortunately this time around the budget flight schedules worked in my favor, and I’m going to have a bit of daytime free time to spend in La Jolla. As such, I’m going to be lugging my full photo kit down with me. Mainly I’m going to be working with my Canon 70-200mm f/4 L IS zoom lens that I bought last week, testing out it’s capabilities and hopefully getting some good wildlife shots (probably mainly seals and sea lions). Hopefully I’ll be able to work in some seascape shots with my Tamron 17-50 f/2.8, which I’m finally starting to get a good feel for. I’m *praying* for a good sunset, which are usually in abundant supply in San Diego.
In other news, I’m still hunting for a good starter pro tripod and ball head for under $300. With a price point that low there’s bound to be some compromises, and I haven’t been especially impressed with what I’ve seen so far. Manfrotto and Gitzo have some interesting options, but I’m still trying decide whether I want to put more money into the tripod or ballhead. Hopefully I’ll have something before spring hits and I’ll really be pining for a better setup than what I have right now. It’s easy to use and was a steal for $30, but leaves me wanting more when I really need something stable.
After using, and having been frustrated with, a long list of compact digital cameras (Olympus, Sony, and Fujiflim), I finally decided to bite the bullet and go for a full fledged DSLR. My previous film SLR experience had been with a Nikon, but after reading many reviews and seeing what was available, I decided that the Canon 30D fit my needs the best. After six months I don’t at all regret my decision. This is simply the best camera I’ve ever owned.
While it’s possible to pick up this camera for the first time and take some “decent” photos right off the bat, there was definitely a learning curve to get good results and really get a “feel” for it. Read the manual, it really will make things easier! Looking back, the biggest mistake I made was even removing the kit lens from the box (in my case the 18-55mm). Pretty much the best thing these kit lenses are for are paperweights, or backup lenses in a worst case scenario. Trying to get good results with the kit lens, especially on the wide end, was horribly frustrating and discouraging. The best thing you can do is a get a decent lens (or 2 or 3) when you first get the camera, you’ll thank yourself later on. It doesn’t have to be an expensive lens, but come on, if you’re already spending $1200 on a camera body, why would you want to be stuck using a $70 kit lens?
A good starter lens set could include a 50mm prime (Canon has a decent one for like $60), a wide zoom (I went with a Tamron 17-50mm for around $450), and a telephoto zoom (Tamron 28-300mm is very reasonable around $360).
If $1200 for a camera body and $800 for some decent starter lenses is more than you’re interested in spending, a good alternative is the Canon Digital Rebel XTi. It’s $400 cheaper than the 30D, has a few more megaapixels (10.2 vs 8.2), is a bit lighter, and easier to hold for smaller hands. It doesn’t have all the features of the 30D, but is a *good* DSLR. Best of all, it will save you money that you can in turn spend on better lenses.
Not too much to see yet, but I finally have my photography site up and running. I’ll be adding more images to the gallery in the next few days, and expanding the info on my photographic equipment page. If there’s some time to spare, I might add one or two digital imaging tutorials soon. Enjoy!