Thursday, 6 May 2010

Looking Ahead

After the less than positive post I made the other day (not to mention the ticked-off rant a few days later) I have decided, enough with the self-pity, it's time to look ahead. I've started by all-but deciding to give up on the 365 Project. I think I'm over-analysing and thus putting too much pressure on myself.


I received my Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 APO DG Macro Telephoto lens today. So far all I've done with it (as I am at work) is show it off; I haven't had a chance to play with it yet. The short-term purpose of me buying this lens is that I am going to France in a couple of weeks with Imogen, to watch the French Open tennis. Tennis has been a passion of mine (spectator rather than participant -- good god, no) since I was 14, and we went last year and had an absolutely amazing time. Obviously this time last year I wasn't interested in photography at all and just took my crappy 5MP point-and-shoot, which even then was about four years out-of-date. Imogen had a much newer P&S compact and I remember feeling amazed and very jealous at how close her camera could zoom in.

Obviously, subsequently I've learned that the massive zoom on her camera was digital rather than optical. What this means is that it zoomed in to a certain extent with the lens, then for the rest of the distance the camera would crop and enlarge the scene on the LCD screen, interpolating the pixels digitally, which thus gave a much lower quality shot than an optical zoom, which takes you all the way with the glass.

The new lens I have should get me virtually all the way in to the players even from the stands, and still give me relatively high quality shots. I am fully aware that at less than £200 the lens is considered a budget lens, and thus the quality will never be as great as anything you'd see in a magazine; reviews generally state that at either extreme end (70mm and 300mm) the quality drops off a bit, and with the maximum aperture at 300mm being f/5.6 it's not a dazzlingly fast lens either. HOWEVER, given that for this holiday I'll be shooting in broad daylight, I'm hoping the aperture shouldn't be too much of an issue, and as for quality... well it will be in keeping with the quality of the budget lenses I already have, I should think.

Where I am going to put this lens when carrying it around, I don't know. It's enormous. I mean seriously, with fully-extended zoom and focus rings, it's more like a cannon. I shall feel very conspicuous when shooting - even more so if I need to attach the lens hood!

My other purpose for this lens is that Ste plays rugby and when the season starts again I'd like to actually attend one or more of his matches (which I am yet to do - I'm such a chicken) and shoot the players.

The lens also has a macro function - while at 1:2 magnification this isn't "true" macro (which gives a 1:1 magnification of the subject), I think for experimenting it should suffice and if I really find myself using it more for macro than anything else, I will eventually spring for a dedicated macro lens. Easier said than done considering the lens I have my eye on comes in at around £400.

I don't think I'll use the new lens anywhere near as much as I have used the nifty-fifty but it will get a workout and if it starts collecting dust I can always sell it.


In other news, yesterday I was perusing some random sky shots I took the other day (while waiting 20 minutes in the freezing cold to be picked up) and I realised I have dust on my CCD sensor.

Dust Spots on Sensor


Ok it's not the biggest deal in the world. The spots are only visible against uniform coloured shots like skies or white backgrounds, there are only about six spots visible at the narrowest aperture, and if I open up the aperture you can only see about two. They are easily edited out in post-processing using the clone tool. However being the deranged lunatic I am I simply cannot rest easy knowing they are there, so I'm taking the camera to be thoroughly cleaned early next week. I've discovered that Park Cameras, one of the biggest independent specialists in the UK, is actually based in Burgess Hill, which is about a 40 minute drive from me, ten minutes from Imogen, and even better, about 2.5 minutes from where Ste works. In retrospect it's a good thing I didn't realise they were so close-by -- I would almost definitely have been in there every time I've visited Imogen and thus bankrupted myself for all eternity.

I decided to get Ste to take the camera in on Monday so I can play with my new lens this weekend. I hope the weather isn't too bad.

So that's what I've got coming up over the next couple of weeks. I'm hoping that relaxing by taking a step back from the 365 Project will help me rediscover the fire. Wish me luck!


Andrea said...

hey there, just clicked through from Pioneer Woman - good luck - I enjoyed what I read, and can relate really well. You might like to read (not my blog, no relation - I don't even know her). This is a blog from a photographer who has 'just turned pro', I expect you'll relate to this!

Jessica {The Novice Chef} said...

I don't blame you! I gave up on Project 365 too! It was really a lot more then I could commit too!

Jessica said...

@Andrea - thanks for the tip, just read through a little and am really enjoying it!

@Jessica - it's funny because I started the project to try and motivate myself and 45 days later it's having the opposite effect! We live and learn...

Thanks for stopping by guys. :)

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