New Photography Toys For The GolfBlogger

imageOne of my blogging New Year’s resolutions is to work on improving the quality of the photography on this blog. To that end, I acquired a Canon Digital Rebel XSi Digital SLR. Compared to the Canon PowerShot A530 that I’ve been using, it’s a beast—both in terms of size and in features. I bought it through Ritz camera, and it thankfully comes with twelve classes on how to use it.

Of course, being a do-it-myself kind of guy, I also bought a couple of digital photography books to study.: Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set and the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi/450D For Dummies from that ubiquitous Dummies series.

The Rebel XSi is a 12.2 megapixel digital SLR that shoots images as large as 4272 x 2848. While there are some high end point-and-shoot cameras that get that kind of resolution, I went with the SLR for a couple of reasons:

First, it has the ability to shoot photos in the RAW format. That’s the unprocessed data that the camera sensors pick up when you take a shot. In point-and-shoot cameras, photos are stored in the JPG format, which is a processed file, with some of the data dropped and compressed. With the RAW format, I’ll be able to do a lot of touch up work using the Digital Photo Professional software that Canon supplied with the camera. Eventually, I’ll also get a copy of PhotoShop for even more image manipulation.

Many years ago, when I was taking photos for newspapers and for public relations work, I used a Nikon Nikkormat 35mm film SLR. It took good photos, but one thing I learned about photography was that the real work is done in the darkroom. Underexposing, overexposing, dodging prints and so on were absolutely necessary to bring out the best in the images. In today’s digital age, all of that smelly chemical work now is done with PhotoShop.

A second reason for going with an SLR was that it has the ability to swap lenses in and out for different types of photos. On golf courses, I’ll probably use the 18-55mm that came with the camera body so I can capture as much of the vista as possible. But I also have a Canon EF-S 55-250mm Telephoto Zoom that came with the kit, and a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens. At some point, I’ll probably also get a wide angle lens. The Macro will be useful for taking photos of things that people send me for review.

The problem with the size of the camera and lenses is that it’s going to be a little more awkward on the course. The extra weight doesn’t really concern me; I use a Sun Mountain SpeedCart so I won’t be lugging it. My main concern is that the process will be somewhat more time consuming and conspicuous. As it is now, I keep the camera in a pocket and then pull it out and take a quick photo after hitting a shot. It’s also very easy to take a quick snapshot as I’m walking down the fairway. The SLR will command a lot more attention.

But I’m really excited about the possibilities. In this post, you can see a couple of photos that I took while “Up North” this past week. While I know that I have a lot to learn about using the camera, I’m pleased with these preliminary results.

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3 thoughts on “New Photography Toys For The GolfBlogger”

  1. Very nice.  I have been using a Minolta Maxxum 5D for 3? years now,  and am looking to upgrade.  If not for the investment in Sony Alpha/Minolta Maxxum glass and the flash, I would be probably looking at one of the lower end Nikon DSLRs, but since I have the stuff, I am going to stick with the Sony a350, which is 14 megapixel.  The a300 is equivelent in features, but only 10 megapixel, and the a300 is what I want to pay for the body.  Since I know even though 14 megapixel is extreme, I would just not be happy I went for the smaller one—so I am waiting for the a350 to drop a little more in price. 

    Good move on Ritz though for getting the classes.  I have been fussing with my Maxxum much of this year, and I was fairly certain it was some settings I needed to mess with.  I did some adjustments for Christmas and got some of the best pictures I have ever taken with this camera.  I do look forward to the new one when I can use the movie mode, the Live view, and the additional resolution.  The Maxxum 5d is 6 megapixel, which is roughly equivelent of ASA 400 35mm film, but the higher resolutions get into slide range, and also makes it so you can worry about the framing of a shot even less.  Plus the preflash on the Maxxum 5d is too long before the flash, giving many subjects the time to start their blink, the a350 should fix that.

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  2. Nice!

    A few years ago I was down to between a Canon and Nikon DSLR and ended up going with the Nikon.  I think you’ll have a grand ol’ time with what you can do with the Rebel.

    One of the better moves I made (at least for me) was to get an 18-200 zoom lens so I didn’t have to swap out when going from, say, a golf course vista to zooming in close on a hawk in a tree or a fox trotting across the fairway.  I realize I lose some speed or sharpness, but the versatility was worth it to me.

    Something to consider.  But anyway, have fun with that camera and congrats!  You won’t regret it.

    ~Dan

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  3. A couple other things now that I am thinking of them: a 18-200 is a good lens to have, probably essential for the DSLRs.  For a good telezoom at a great price, you might want to check out the Sigma 70-300 APO DG Macro.  http://www.sigmaphoto.com/lenses/lenses_all_details.asp?id=3303&navigator=3
    This size lens comes in a non APO and a non Macro version, but the low price of this (street about $220 or so) makes this lens a steal in my opinion.  Given the APS sensor effective size of this lens is 105-450mm, flaws in the telezooms become very noticable, but this lens is great.  I just wish I got to use mine more.  On the wide to short tele zoom side, at some point I would like the 16-105mm Sony lens – but it is as much as that new a350 body I want.

    If you are interested in Photoshop, you should be qualified for the education discount for it.  You get the full version at about 75% off.  I lucked into a discounted version years ago when I bought a pro-level scanner, but I have more than made up for it with 3 or 4 version upgrades since (and I am about to go to CS4).

    If you haven’t found a bag yet, you might want to check out the Lowepro sling bags.  very handy, especially on hikes, where you can wear it as a backpack and then swing it to the front and unzip half of the bag to remove just the camera and keep the rest of the goodies secure.

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