Putting together a system

The first question I asked myself when I decided to go Canon was, what camera or lens to get. From what I’ve experienced so far, I need to figure out exactly which Canon body, lenses, accessories & cases to use.

I need to ensure that…
1. It fit the budget I had from the Nikon system that I was selling off. This was important.
2. It had to be a complete system at the same time light enough to carry around so that I don’t break my back!
3. It had to be full frame. Yay finally!

Since I have this problem of thinking what to bring when I go out to shoot, I figured if I kept my gear to a bare minimum would be a good idea. If the entire system could fit into my smaller Kata bag, wouldn’t that be great!?

Camera Body

This choice was simple. There was really only one Canon camera body I could really afford. That was the 5DmkII. Folks who shoot Canon swear by it & ever since the ver.2 firmware was out, it really made the camera shine. Straight forward, no brainer… easy!

Lens coverage

Some of you folks may think that as a ‘complete system’, we must have lenses that cover every possible millimeter from 14mm until 400mm or more! Siao!! I wish I was really that loaded to afford this coverage.

Let’s see a Canon 14mm will cost about RM8.5k… that nice looking 16-35mm will set me back another RM6k… oh… I need that 24-70mm f/2.8! You know the one them fashion photographers use? Nice only RM5.5k! Then of course the 70-200mm tokong with that very cool built-in stabilizer at RM8.5k. Then right at the long end, the 100-400mm for RM6k. Nice… all in all I have to spend RM34.5k! Walau…. then add the 5DmkII… that’s more than RM40k for a so called complete system covering every square millimeter from 14mm to 400mm… zzzzz… Don’t even get me started on those more than 400mm lenses! lol

Ok ok… let’s not run fire & take 2 steps back please. So the million dollar question. How the heck do you choose a complete system without breaking your bank!!?? Seems like it’s quite impossible seeing how all the nice 2.8 lenses cost too damn frigging expensive! How does anyone afford this hobby!!?? See the trunk load of gear on the right? No pun intended I was just trying to illustrate how daunting it is to find a system that suites you.

I remember back when I was still shooting on my D50… my first every investment on a lens was the infamous 18-200mm VR by Nikon. VR stands for VIbration Reduction. What it was is actually two types of sensors inside the lens to detect pitching (vertical) & yawing (horizontal), processing the results very quickly to identify the direction & amount of shake at the time of exposure. The data is then used to drive motors from within the lens to compensate for the movement in real time. So it was rather cool having an all in one lens to cover the entire range you will ever need on a compact DX Nikon camera body. However no such luck here on an FF body. There is a 28-300mm lens but it costs close to RM10k & it’s still rather expensive. Also these all in one lenses kinda looses it’s novelty after a while & most importantly, they suck. Noobs love super zooms…. Sorry Alan if you’re reading this! lol

So I had to do some research & at the same time observe what others are doing. While it’s ok to copy what other people do, but ultimately you need to be comfortable with the system that you’re going to work with. Remember I fiddled with too much before when I shot Nikon so I didn’t want to make the same mistake I did before.

You don’t need to cover every millimeter… duh!!

Since the 5DmkII is a full frame camera, I’ll need a 50mm standard lens to go with it. For any system that you are trying to build, a fast standard lens should be the first thing that you go for. I didn’t care for the f1.8 version of the 50mm… it’s an elcheapo plastic toy & the quality sucks. Only 5 blades… WTF!!?? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a sharp lens for the price that you’re paying for it… however that same f1.8 50mm from Nikon is way better built than the Canon one. So I went for the f1.4 version of the 50mm. Nice! I’ll talk more about this lens in a later post.

At the wider end, I wanted something which was Ultra Wide. Initially I thought of getting the 24mm or the 28mm but decided against it. Perhaps the flexibility of the 17-40mm zoom was better. This was also a very popular lens & almost everyone I know… even EFS shooters to some extend have this. Many Canon users swear by this lens so I figured I might as well go with it. I love ultra wides, those of you who have seen some of my work will understand why.

Ok excellent. I got my standard & my ultra wide. For the telephoto, I haven’t actually decided which of the 70-200s to get yet. It was either the f2.8 or the f4 version without any stabilizers. I have been shooting with a similar range lens on my Nikon previously & I didn’t really need any VR technology or IS as they call it on a Canon lens. IS stands for Image Stabilization. Damn copyright & trademarking….hate the corporate bastards that came up with this thing!

I’m leaning towards the f4 version because it’s half the weight of the f2.8 one. However I was not about to get a new one because there are plenty of water fish out there looking to sell their f4 to upgrade to an f2.8. So I just need to wait a while & be patient browsing through FTZ or Shutterasia for a used one.

So once I get the 70-200mm, I have a complete system!! Or not, it depends on how the current 2 that I have works for me. There you have it.

What? 40-70? I’m missing something? Not really. That bit between 40 & 50 is irrelevant. What is between 50 & 70 well… guna kaki zoom lah! Just step back or forward, reframe then shoot. No biggie!

Ah… before I forget would like to thank Master Chooi for his invaluable advice on the choice of lens! lol… without which I would not have been poisoned into switching to Canon in the first place. lol!

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