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Alex Hare Photography

New Photography Kit List, but what deals can you get?
Kit, Caboodle & ReviewsLandscape &Travel Photography Techniques

Feb 23rd 2015

I’ve had a bit of re vamp of my photography kit.  It’s cost me a small fortune but it’s nice to have some new toys to play with!

Most of this stuff is on everyone’s shopping list so I’ll run through it and summarise why I think it’s useful and/or worth investing in in case you are also mulling things over.  Some people may already have these but I've got by with quite a limited range or lenses so for me it's a first to have what I would say is a full compliment of lenses if I include my 70-200mm, 1.4 and 2x converters, 17mm TSE and 105mm Macro.  

Anyway, what's new and what was the point of shelling out for it?

Canon 16-35mm f4 lens.  This has been discussed separately here if you want to read about why I bought this lens.  I’ve also tested it against the 17-40mm and 17mm TSE here.

Canon 24-70 f4.  I sold my beautiful 24-70mm f2.8 lens to buy this.  Why?  Because it’s lighter, has Image Stabilisation (IS) and seemed as sharp as the f2.8 (MKI) and barely less sharp than the jaw droppingly expensive 24-70mm f2.8 MKII, according to the reviews.  As per the 16-35mm f, it's also the same filter thread size (77mm) as my old lenses so all my filters attach to it, this would not be the case with the 24-70mm f2.8 MKII an would add another £200-£300 in new bits 'n' bobs that I really don't want to have to pay for too.

The big thing for me was the IS; I never understood why it was missing from the f2.8 MKI lens-even the consumer lenses have it after all!  It’s not much use shooting landscapes on a tripod but is so handy for handheld travel, wedding and commercial work.

Losing the f2.8 aperture doesn’t bother me, I hardly ever used it anyway.  F4 I use a lot for shallow depth of field and, if I want it shallower or with more bokeh, I can use the handy macro feature to get closer to small things like shots of wedding rings to achieve a really shallow DoF.  I used to have to carry my heavy Sigma 105mm Macro just for this shot, so that’s a big plus!

I try and remember that my photography is really about going to interesting places and finding a way of capturing them in interesting light that is fun; buying inanimate objects like lenses leaves me feeling a bit empty after the initial thrill of opening them.  It's a case of what it can do for my photography that matters, not owning it in itself that gets me excited.  Buttermere at dawn, Canon 5DMKIII, 70-200mm f8, 1/60s.

Sigma 15mm Fisheye.  I’ve never owned a fish eye before; acquiring all the standard lenses cost enough without adding this to the list but it’s at quite a good price now and I love using it for my hyperlapse video work.  I also expect to get some good stills from it, of course, but I hope to not just rely on it’s bendy perspective for the wow factor instead of composition and lighting…

Tamrac Expedition 8x camera back pack.  More lenses; need bigger bag.  Plus the old one was coming apart.  Nuff said.

32 gig memory cards.  I never know how long to rely upon memory cards.  Fortunately my Canon 5DMKIII’s have dual slots so if one does ‘go’ everything is written on the other card too.  Anyway, I decided it was time to refresh my stocks and, with the large files the 5D’s create 16gig was filling up fast, especially with timelapse work where a high volume of RAW’s are shot for each sequence.  And besides, the old ones make good spares.

New camera batteries.  As if forking out for memory cards wasn’t enough of a boring item to eat into my bank account wait ‘til you replace these puppies!  They are not cheap and I keep 2 for each camera (plus my old ones).  I know you can check their recharge capacity in-camera but I also use the ‘have I noticed them draining quicker than usual’ test.  I opted for the newer LP-E6N versions that offer greater capacity.  For a small extra cost it seemed an obvious choice.

So, at the checkout, did I get any discounts or bargains?  Yes and no; as I bought most of this stuff from different sellers, scope for arguing over price was limited.  I kept a watchful eye on camerpricebuster.com and bought from the cheapest seller at the time.

I had my lenses up for sale on ebay and decided to wait until the auction was over before buying the new ones.  I had a list of prices I drew up in mid Jan to compare against what I actually paid for my items and, meanwhile, I kept an avid eye on camerapricebuster.com.

I got my new zooms at only a few quid more than their record lowest prices, sadly mid Jan was a record low for the 24-70mm, so I was £20 down.  A bit of haggling about the 24-70mm’s P&P cost dropped this by a fiver though. 

Calumet were really good; I got my bag and camera batteries from them.  They had 15% discounts on each and I managed to get a Giottos blower brush thrown in too.  Bargain, that’s worth £10 and I’d lost my old bag of cleaning accessories in my recent house move so I was on the look out for one anyway.

The 2 CF and 2 SD memory cards were priced at just over £200 but I think buying 4 in one go so late on a Friday helped me secure them for £200 inc P&P.

Even a scene with little direct light can be transformed by thinking what creative choices are available to find an interesting interpretation of the scene.  Here, a wide angle (17mm TSE) and long exposure has added strength to the sky with long, directional lines sweeping the eye down into the body of the shot.

The fisheye was cheapest from Mathers.  You can get it much cheaper from a foreign import shop (they don’t charge you the import tax although you are still liable for it as far as the Revenue are concerned.)  You always worry what you’re going to get and what will happen if there’s a problem though so I opted not to use them.

Mathers always seemed to be best for domestic shopping prices (based on my camerapricebuster.com vigil) and they threw in a nice big lens cleaning cloth without too much persuading.  Again, maybe it was late on a Friday which helped…

All in all I probably got it all for about the same as my mid January 'wants' list.  And of course my old camera cleaning accessories bag turned up today in a suitcase in the loft.  Oh well, I wont be running out of lens cleaning fluid for quite some time and I certainly have lots of new shiny lenses to polish with it all too!

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