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Aug 12, 2012 | The perfect Canon upgrade kit

File this under First World Problems, if you will: not being able to take a photo of your camera and kit because you don’t have another camera! As any fledgling camera addict would probably know, there comes a point in the whole camera-owning business where buying a couple of lens becomes a fun (and possibly addictive) occurrence. I’m about to assess the damage I’ve done to my own wallet and also suggest why the following kit works well for me (and maybe for you too).

My 550D with the 17-85mm, the 35mm f/2 and the 10-22mm wide angle lens

I bought my 450D in January off of Craigslist after wanting to upgrade from my previous S3IS compact lens. At $320 it was a fairly good deal, but I missed having the ability to record video. The camera two steps newer is the 550D and is sometimes affectionally referred to as the baby 50D, a full body camera and the true realm of the “semi-professional” DSLR. I wasn’t quite ready for that investment, so in July I paid 35800 yen ($457 as of August 2012) for a 550D body. This is the same camera that I brought up to Mt. Fuji, so I am unlikely to consider upgrading anytime soon!

As for the lens, I’ve hunted around for quite a few to replace my 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 kit lens. There is something to be said about a 6.7oz (190g) lens as it is extremely portable, and I learned the lesson the hard way when I started by getting myself a 28-135mm 3.5-5.6 zoom lens (19.1oz) (15,000 yen). I hadn’t thought weight would be a factor, but with lens creep the zoom was simply not worth it, even with Image Stabilization. I was still on the hunt for a good walk-around lens, given that I am a bit of a lens snob and wanted to not be caught dead with a standard kit lens.

In the mean time, I decided to go ahead and purchase two lenses:

35mm f/2 (22,900 yen)
This lens was meant to replace my 50mm 1.8, which I was very satisfied with but managed unfortunately to destroy it beyond repair when I dropped it at a recent festival when I was trying to switch lenses. The 35mm is perfect for indoor scenes/food/people shots and works nicely in low light. It’s a bit loud, but I prefer to think of it as a relatively cutesy noise rather than annoying. It’s also perfect when you want to take good photos but don’t want to look like a photo geek/creep by carrying around a heavy lens. You do end up paying for the 15mm difference, however – the 50mm goes for about 1/4 the price of the 35mm, but it’s worth it to me if you don’t have to step back too much to get the content you want in the photo.

10-22mm 3.5-4.5 (45,000 yen)
This was an expensive, impulsive purchase but I have not regretted buying it for a single moment. While not usually a walk-around lens, pretty much every photo I’ve taken with this lens has blown me away. It makes you realize that this is what cameras are for – to reinterpret the world around you and to learn how to reinterpret the world as a result even without a camera. The wide angle lens, while still something I am testing out in a variety of scenarios, promises to be a good solution for group shots, outdoor landscapes and buildings, and other neat wide-angle shots.

Lastly, I topped off my search for a good walk-around lens by visiting the second-hand camera and lens store Kitamura this afternoon in Shinjuku (and hoping to sell of my 28-135). I was eyeing the 17-55 and the 17-85mm lenses and while a lot of online talk mentioned the good parts of the 17-55, I wasn’t quite ready to invest nearly 60,000 yen on it, compared to the more amenable 20,000 yen for the 17-85. It covers the 18-55 range nicely with a bit of a compromise on the aperture range (4-5.6 instead of 3.5-5.6) but the added zoom may be handy.

Hence, assessing the damage here:
35,800 for the body
45,000 for the 10-22mm 3.5-4.5
22,900 for the 35mm f/2
21,482 for the 17-85 4-5.6
= 125,182

Ouch (considering I hadn’t done that calculation until now). I don’t regret it for a moment, though, and here’s to hoping that someone else will find this set as useful in different cases as it should hopefully be for me. I’m looking forward to setting up a more specific area for some of my favorite shots (I used Flickr/500px for a while but not very keen on either one). Maybe I might even go into pro-bono photo shoots this fall?

This entry was posted on Sunday, August 12th, 2012 at 6:20 am, EST under the category of Life, Oh Life. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.