Photography Pains

As much as I like photography, I also hate it, especially when things break.  For example:

  • In the past three years, I had two Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lenses break on me for the same reason: a zoom barrel design flaw that resulted in my being unable to rotate the zoom ring due to a loose screw.  Both times, I unsuccessfully attempted a manual repair, only to destroy them beyond hope.
  • Of late, my first good Canon EF mount lens, the Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical, has developed a worn flex cable.  In other words, I get the dreaded Err99 every 60-100 shots or so.  If only I had known about Tamron’s spotty quality control…
  • Lastly, my Canon EOS 20D needed its shutter release mechanism replaced, which thankfully is an easy fix if you know how to solder and willing to open up what effectively is a fancy computer.

Worst of all, the money I lost on those three subpar zoom lenses (~$1100) could have been used to get something of significantly higher quality [like the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM].  It goes to show you get what you pay for.

On a related note, a friend asked me yesterday which camera, namely a dSLR, is a good one to invest in as a gateway into photography.  I implore you all to do the following:

  • Buy a used dSLR and/or one that is within your means.  A new Canon EOS 60D without a lens will set you back $900, whereas a used Canon Rebel XSi [which I think has one of the better Canon APS-C sensors made to date] with a kit lens can be had for less than $400.
  • If you want an affordable lens of good quality, go for a fixed focal length prime lens.  Consider how for the price of a Canon EF-S 17-85mm, you can get a Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM that has significantly better optics and is not prone to zoom barrel design flaws.
  • Use the damn camera, and if necessary, learn how to take better pictures.  After all, what good is an expensive tool if you cannot properly utilize it?

Which reminds me: I really should get around to teaching my parents how to master a dSLR, especially if they plan on taking many pictures during their travels.


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