Choosing a 24-70 f/2.8 lens ...Tamron or Canon

February 18, 2015  •  2 Comments

I see it all the time.... Someone in a photography group asks about buying a 24-70 lens... There are people that swear by only buying OEM and saying that 'you can't be a pro by using a 3rd party lens'. Or, 'buy the best'. And...'you get what you pay for!' 

Most of the time, this can be intimidating and make the person asking the question think that there is only one way to go.. Spend 1800+ dollars on that Canon lens..

Is the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II a great lens? HELL YES!! It is AMAZING! 

Is the Tamron 24-70 f/2.8vc a piece of crap? HELL NO!! It too, is AMAZING.

Here is my personal experience and what I did when it was time for me to upgrade my old 24-70... 

I was an L only guy for several years.. I shot with the 24-70 version 1 from Canon and about a year ago, I decided that it was time to upgrade.

I primarily shoot weddings and corporate head shots. So, this lens is very important to me...

I researched all of the major brands, Canon, Tamron and Sigma.

I watched every video I could on them.

I looked at every comparable test and eliminated the sigma.

Then, I rented both the Canon 24-70 II and the Tamron 24-70vc. I took both to a wedding and used them both on a 5d2.

Here is what I noticed - The canon focused amazingly fast and had very little vignetting. The Tamron had a bit more vignetting than the Canon, but not enough to make much of a difference.

The Tamron focused a millisecond slower than the Canon, but again, not enough to make much of a difference.

The Tamron was actually sharper in most situations.

The Canon was better with handling moire situations, but once again, not to a very great degree of difference.

Here is what sold me on the Tamron, in low light, keeping my iso to a level to eliminate as much noise as i could, I was able to get crisp, sharp photos hand-held at 1/15 on the Tamron using the VC.

I immediately bought the Tamron and I have not had one regret about it...It is the only non-L lens in my bag..

Why would the Tamron come with a 6 year warranty and the Canon only come with a 1 year warranty? Tamron stands behind their quality, that is for sure....

I will be upgrading my 70-200 in the next year or so. Right now, I have the L version 1. The tamron will definitely get a test from me.

I hope that my experience can help you.


Combining Aperture, Inverse Square Law and Power

November 02, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Combining Aperture, Inverse Square Law and Power

Previously, we learned how to properly expose a photo using the Inverse Square Law. After that, we learned how to properly expose a photo using Aperture to control light. Today, we are going to combine those two and throw in another way to control the exposure of our photos while using off camera flash. This may seem like the easier of the three and it can be. However, you still need to know about the previous two methods in the event that you will need to use them together, like what we are going to do here.

Our previous two exercises in learning to expose photos properly involved us photographing a ball with our speedlight set on 1/4 power, our ISO set at 100 our f/stop set at f/5.6 (to start) and the distance between the ball and our speedlight at 12 inches and doubling that distance etc.. 

The starting settings for this experiment will be as follows: Shutter speed 1/125, ISO 100, f/5.6, speedlight power at 1/4 and the distance between the speedlight and the ball - 48 inches. 

Now, take the picture..

ISO 100, 1/125, F/5.6, 1/4 power

Lighting experiment 3 001Lighting experiment 3 001

As you can see, compared to where we started with our other experiments, we are closer to where we need to be. We took a little of what we learned about the inverse square law and started with our speedlight 48 inches away from the ball, so we have less light to start. Are we over exposed? Yes. However we are much closer to where we want to get.

Next, we need to lower the power output on our speedlight by 1 full stop. That means, we will take the speedlight from 1/4 power output to 1/8 power output. Keep everything else the same. Now, take the photo.

Lighting experiment 3 002Lighting experiment 3 002

How does that look? Pretty close to our goal? We aren't quite there yet but you can see tremendous change right?

So, once again, lets lower the output on our speedlight 1 full stop. That will take us from 1/8 power to 1/16 power. 

Take the photo. Lighting experiment 3 003Lighting experiment 3 003

The result? We've gotten so close to our desired look much faster than going step by step with the other experiments right? 

Lets lower the output 1 more stop to see what it looks like. So, from 1/16 power down to 1/32 power.

Photo time...

Lighting experiment 3 004Lighting experiment 3 004

What do you think? You can see the dirt on the ball, the scuffs, the seams.. there is nothing blown out.... 

As you can see, by adjusting power output of the speedlight can get you where you want to be very quickly. 

Right now you're probably saying to yourself, "Self, that was pretty easy. But we didn't use what we previously learned" And you would be right, to a degree. We only used the inverse square law in that part of the experiment which leads us to our second phase of this experiment. 

Now, we are going to incorporate using aperture into the mix.. The first phase, we had our aperture set at f/5.6. Now, I want you to start with all of the same settings listed above, but I want you to set your aperture 1 full stop higher than our f/5.6. By looking at our chart - 

We can see that one full stop higher than f/5.6 would be f/8.

So, lets review where our settings need to be - 1/125, ISO 100, Speedlight on 1/4 power and 48 inches from the ball, F/8.

Take the shot... Lighting experiment 3 007Lighting experiment 3 007

What do you see? Slightly over exposed right? MUCH closer than our starting point at any other time, correct?

So, what is the next step?

That's right, lets drop the power on the speedlight 1 stop. So, we go from 1/4 power to 1/8 power.

Where do you think we will be with that?

Lets take the photo to find out..

Lighting experiment 3 008Lighting experiment 3 008

What do you see? The dirt on the ball? The scuffs? The seams are clear etc.. But, it still seems a little bright.. what does your histogram show you? Any highlights blown?

Just for fun, lets lower the power on the speedlight one more time and see what happens...

Lighting experiment 3 009Lighting experiment 3 009

As you can see, a full stop adjustment can make a tremendous change in a photograph. 

Lets play with aperture a little more.

Here are the settings, ISO 100, 1/125 Shutter speed, Speedlight on 1/4 power and 48 inches from the ball. Now, lets close our aperture another full stop. Scroll up to look at the chart if you need to. We started at f/5.6, then we did f/8, now we will go to f/11.

And... GO!


Lighting experiment 3 013Lighting experiment 3 013

We're looking pretty good from the start here...

Now, lets once again lower our flash output from 1/4 power to 1/8 power.

Here is what I got...

Lighting experiment 3 014Lighting experiment 3 014

So, as you see, combining the Inverse Square Law, Aperture Control and Power output we can quickly and easily get to a properly exposed photo.

Remember, in real world use, you don't have to adjust by full stops. Most camera lenses and speedlights will allow control by 1/3 increments. 


If you found this, or any of my other blogs helpful, please subscribe so that you don't miss a thing...I also have a YouTube Channel where I occasionally make helpful videos. I also sell the same speedlights and triggers that I use right here

Again, stick around because there will be more learning to come...


Using Aperture to Control Light

October 30, 2014  •  3 Comments

Using Aperture to Control Light


In my previous blog, I talked about the inverse square law and showed you how to put it to use. This one will use some of the same settings but I will use a different technique to properly expose the photos, Aperture.

What is aperture? Simply put, aperture is the opening in the lens that allows light to pass through to the sensor or film in order to create an image. Think of the lens as your eye, the aperture is basically just like the pupil of your eye, it adjusts by opening wider or closing more in order to allow the right amount of light to enter your eye so that you see things properly. The aperture is basically the pupil of the camera lens. Aperture is measured in what we in photography call f-stops. Now, I am not going to get all technical and go into all of the detail because this is for mostly newer photographers. Just know this, the lower the aperture number, the more light allowed into the camera and the more shallow the depth of field. The higher the number of the aperture, the less light allowed into the camera and the depth of field becomes greater. 

On to the experiment and the learning....

Previously, the experiment we conducted started with a speedlight set on 1/4 power, 12 inches from the ball. We used iso 100 as well as a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second. To learn the inverse square law, we doubled the distance between the speedlight and the ball until we had a properly exposed photo. We are going to take a little from that experiment and use it today.

First, we need our speedlight set on 1/4 power again. We will once again be using a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second and our ISO will be set to 100. We will start with our aperture, once again, at f/5.6. However, we will put our speedlight 24 inches away from our ball (that was the second distance in the previous lesson) at a 45 degree angle from the ball. 

Everything set up? Aperture at f/5.6? Here we go... Take a photo of the ball. 

light experiment 2 001light experiment 2 001

What happened? The ball is seriously over-exposed right? Of course it is. We did the exact same shot last time... Now, lets start learning a little...

There are a couple of things I want you to notice.. The first of which is, the photo is very bright and overexposed throughout. The second thing I want you to notice is the background, do you see how it is blurry and not in focus? That is because we are shooting at a wide aperture f/5.6 (remember, lower number = more light, less depth of field). 


Most lenses and cameras on the market today allow you to change your aperture by 1/3 of a stop. I am not going to get into the math and how you determine the numbers etc, but I will offer this chart - it is used with permission..

Notice the column that has the f-stops broken down by thirds. That is the one we will be following today.

As we move along in our experiment, I want you to close your aperture by 1/3 stop for each photo, all while keeping every other part of the experiment exactly the same. ISO 100, speedlight on 1/4 power, 24 inch distance between the light and the ball and so on. We will progress through the aperture scale until our photo is exposed properly. 


Here is our next photo, taken at f/6.3

light experiment 2 002light experiment 2 002

What do you see? Any difference?


Now, lets go to the next level, f/7.1

light experiment 2 003light experiment 2 003

What do you see? Things are changing slightly right?



So, next would be f/8

light experiment 2 004light experiment 2 004

Are you seeing the difference? Each step along the way there is slightly more change in the photo. The exposure is slowly creeping up on where we want it to be.. we still have a good distance to go, but it is no where near the level of over-exposure that we had to start with right?



Next we have f/9

light experiment 2 005light experiment 2 005

We're really seeing the changes now...



F/10 light experiment 2 006light experiment 2 006



and now to f/11

light experiment 2 007light experiment 2 007



light experiment 2 008light experiment 2 008

We're getting there.. you can see the magazine rack in the background starting to take shape. Also, you can see that I should have swept my floor prior to doing this! 

F/14 light experiment 2 009light experiment 2 009



f/16 light experiment 2 010light experiment 2 010



F/18 light experiment 2 011light experiment 2 011


f/20 light experiment 2 012light experiment 2 012



F/22 light experiment 2 013light experiment 2 013


Did you notice that as we moved higher and higher with our f/number the background became more and more clear? Did you notice that the light became darker and less overpowering? As we got to the end, we could see more and more details of the baseball. We could see the scuff marks and the dirt on it as well. 

So, as we can see, aperture controls how much light is let in and we can control the exposure of our photograph simply by adjusting our aperture. 

Taking what we learned previously about the inverse square law and using it with what we learned here will enable us to better expose our photos, even if we can not adjust how much light our speedlight or light source is putting out. 

Stick around, there will be another lesson coming soon... Subscribe to my blog and my YouTube Channel to continue learning.

Inverse Square Law Put to Use

October 18, 2014  •  4 Comments

Inverse Square Law - putting it together in the photography world.


The inverse square law tells us that the intensity of light is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source.


But what does that mean in simple terms that I can understand?


It means, in short, that the farther your subject is from the light, the less light that will be hitting your subject. Common sense right? See, you knew some physics and didn't even realize it. In photography, this is called light fall off. Now, to put it in practical terms and something that may be of use for us as photographers, this means that doubling the distance, reduces the light by approximately 1/4. (for you physics majors and math people, yes the decimals are slightly different, but for real world usage and keeping things relatively easy to understand, we will go with this approximation)


Our first project will be to take a photo of a ball. - settings: iso 100, shutter speed 1/125, aperture f/5.6 with your speedlight set at 1/4 power.


For the first part of the project, place the ball 12 inches from your speedlight at a 45 degree angle. Now, take a photo.




The results? Blown way out, right? That is because the intensity of the light at the close distance is way more than what we need to properly expose the ball. So, according to the inverse square law, we will need to move the speedlight further away from the ball in order to lower the light intensity.


Assuming that the inverse square law is accurate, if we move our speedlight back double the distance while keeping everything else exactly the same we can surmise that the light will be reduced by 1/4 the power that it was originally.


So, now it is time for the second part of our project.  Same settings, but now, move the speedlight back double the distance. So, we will go from 12 to 24 inches from the speedlight. Now that your speedlight is  24 inches from the ball. Take the photo..


What happened? Blown out again right? Did you notice a difference in how bad the photo was blown out? I know in my experiment, I certainly did.  We lowered our light intensity by 1/4 simply by moving the light back from the subject double the distance. In this case we went from 12 inches to 24 inches which caused a noticeable difference in the light intensity.


Now, it is time for the 3rd portion of our experiment. Remember the inverse square law? It says that by doubling the distance you lower the light intensity by 1/4 right? So, we were last at a distance of 24 inches from the ball. Now, we need to double that distance which will give us a distance from the ball of 48 inches. After backing the speedlight up to 48 inches, do a photo with all of the settings the same as our first : iso 100, shutter speed 1/125, aperture f/5.6, speedlight on 1/4 power.


Results? The photo looks a lot better than our very first one right? It is still overexposed a bit though. Do you see a dramatic difference between the 3 photos so far? Each time we move the speedlight back, we get closer to our desired level of exposure.


So, now we need to move on to the fourth portion of our experiment.. What to do? Keep all of the settings the same: iso 100, shutter speed 1/125, aperture f/5.6, speedlight on 1/4 power. This time move the light back double the distance again. So, we go from 48 inches to 96 inches. Take the photo and look at your results.


What does the photo look like? On my camera, this was a perfectly exposed photo. There were no highlights that were blown out and nothing over-exposed. Based on the light output of your speedlight, you should be somewhere close as well.


This shows how you can use distance from the lighting source to properly expose a photo. By moving our light source back double the distance, we were able to lower the light intensity by another 1/4 from before and we were able to get the exposure that we wanted.


By learning this technique, I hope you can now understand a little better as to the why and how light intensity affects your photos. 

This is just our first project/experiment in learning about lighting. More  learning is right around the corner... subscribe to my blog to follow along..

Introductory to off camera flash

September 22, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

As people learn about photography, there are different phases that most newbies go through. Often, people get a dslr and go out to conquer the world of photography shooting in automatic mode. Later, they learn about the other modes on their camera and experiment with them as well. There are people that want to just shoot "natural light"  (usually because they don't understand how to use artificial light or they were using the flash that is built in to their cameras and realize it sucks). Then, at some point people hear about Off Camera Flash. Then their ears perk up and their interest is peaked and they wonder, what is that magical term and how do I do it? Well, I am here to hopefully help someone out with the answers to your questions. I use ocf the majority of the time when shooting. As I have talked about in a previous blog, I use Yongnuo speedlights. I currently use a Canon 5d Mark II for my photography and since it does not have a built in triggering system for OCF, I have to use triggers to fire my speedlights. A trigger is a device that tells the flash/speedlight when to fire. The triggers I use are the Yongnuo YN-622c. These are also made for Nikon, which would be the 622n. But, since everyone knows that the best photographers only shoot Canon, I will only talk about the Canon system today. But seriously, the triggers aren't really the most important part, I only mention what I use so that if you want to use the same thing and ask me questions, I can answer them for you. 

Ok, so OCF...where to deep to delve into this subject??? I will keep this simple, hopefully. I am going to talk about speedlights. In this blog I will be talking about the Yongnuo 565ex speedlights. Yes, there are other lights/flashes you can use off-camera but I need to keep it easy to start...

So, you just got a fancy new speedlight. You may have spent several hundred dollars on one because you didn't read my blog on speedlights. Or, you may have made a wise choice and purchased one that I recommended. Either way, you are on the right track to creating better images already. You have taken your speedlight and put it in the hot shoe on top of your camera and you have taken a ton of photos only to see that they just don't have that 'it' factor you are wanting and the light is harsh on your subject and you are at your wits end wondering if you made a mistake. Don't worry, you haven't. I already said you were on the right track, so relax...

There are a few other things that you are going to need in order to use your speedlight off-camera. If you are like me and your camera doesn't have remote speedlight triggering/control built into it, you will need triggers. As I stated before, I use the YN-622c triggers. They are actually called transceivers, meaning they can transmit and receive information. You will need a minimum of 2. One to put on top of your camera and one to mount your speedlight on. There are many types of triggers/transceivers that can do the job. In fact, Yongnuo makes a great manual trigger that can work with just about any speedlight. The YN-603c (again, the c stands for Canon.) These are relatively inexpensive ($30.00 or so per pair). I would recommend that you also purchase a light stand and a shoot through umbrella. You will also need an umbrella mount. I prefer the type E or type B hotshoe umbrella mount. These make it easy to make angular adjustments. They fit right on top of your light stand, your speedlight mounts on top of the bracket and your umbrella slides right into place. 

Once you have your speedlight and your triggers the fun begins. (From this point on, I will be referring only to the 622c transceivers but other models work in much the same way) Mount a transceiver to the top of your camera in the hot shoe. Mount your flash into the hot shoe on the other transceiver. Place the speedlight/transceiver into the hot shoe umbrella mount on top of your light stand. Turn them all on and it is time to take some photos. 

First, make sure that your transceivers are all set to the same channel. I typically use the first channel available. Then, make sure that the one with the speedlight on it is set to a controllable group, in this case use group A. Next, power on your camera and scroll through the menu until you come across an external speedlight control option. From here, you will be able to control the power output of the speedlight.

Many people use light meters to decide the power to set their speedlights on to properly expose their subject. I typically make some quick adjustments as I go by taking a couple of test shots to get to the exposure level that I want.  The more you play with your speedlights the more familiar you will become with them and the easier it will be to get your settings right. 

In my next installment, I will go deeper into the subject and help you with a simple set up. 

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