Upgrading my photography gear . . . and how you did - too?

An overhaul of early 2010 equipment was now in order. Letting a vital skill lapse, such as photography when being otherwise left to idleness in late Fall and Winter, needs to be remedied. I need to improve on every photographic level so that this Spring I may be ready for the coming chase season.

My sordid tale begins with Facebook marketplace. Yes; amongst the mysterious garage sales, video card scammers, and lonely hearts clubs (thinly disguised prostitution - of sorts). Chanced to wade thru it all and managed to find the cameras and related gear. So, I browsed. My preference for Canon found a plethora of such items . . .

Found someone selling a used Canon T7 for $225 and purchased it. Hmmm. 24mp and LiveView, among other useful features, such as built in lens correction and auto ISO. Knowing that the 10-22mm, 18-55 IS, EF 50mm f/1.4, and 55-250mm f/4 EF-s I previously used with an older XTi would work just fine, I snagged it. Phase One complete. Or; so I thought. Pictures are very good, and am surprised with the feature set of this camera and the much improved auto focus system over the little XTi. Such a small expenditure; so massive a return.

In addition, am investigating some processing software. PaintShopPro was what I had used last decade, and found that it didn't keep up with the times as well as other software has.

Found Raw Therapee to be a little daunting and slow, but very powerful - for free. Didn't stop there and bought a copy of LrClassic, since it seemed to be a fave of many. Was only $40 for version 10.4. GIMP was also explored, but doesn't do the CR2 Canon RAW format. In addition, I am trying out PsElements, Perfectly Clear, and DxO as well. Jury is not in yet; but it seems that Raw Therapee and LrClassic are winning comfortably. Elements denoising seems to be top notch, as does Perfectly clear and DxO.

Now, the Real Fun begins. Did I say 'sordid'? Spending a few thousand for new gear means that kicking a few tires may well be in order, and this can get sordid. A full-frame camera choice was being considered between the Canon 6D mkII and EOS-RP. Mirrorless vs the DSLR. The arguments for and against are all compelling. But "if one boils it all down to gravy"; what do you think and what was the compelling factors for your choices?
 
In regards to equipment, I'm going to venture into the world of mirrorless cameras when I start making upgrades. It seems that mirrorless technology is where the industry is heading, and I'd imagine that will only smooth out some of the seemingly small issues current systems have and eventually draw prices down. I haven't upgraded because my Canon 70D and the few Canon EF-S lenses I have do what I need them to do for the most part, and I don't have several thousand dollars to sink into a full mirrorless setup currently. Once I have the need and ability to, I'll likely be going mirrorless.

As for software, I've used LrClassic and Photoshop through nearly all my years of taking photos. There are some that claim it is overpriced and that the new subscription-based payment plan is a rip-off, but I personally do not have an issue with it. I like knowing there's numerous resources and guides available on how to use the software, support and updates are regular and likely to continue for the foreseeable future, the user interface is clean and easily navigated, and it does everything I need it to do. I am likely biased, however, as this is the only software I've used for editing RAW photos. I've played around with others a little (GIMP is the only one I can remember), but they did not compare to LrClassic for what I wanted.
 
So many do use Ps and LrClassic.
Seems to be a common choice and a solid one.

Well; the sordid tire kicking gave way to make some final evaluations, and then putting so much money where my mouth is.

I elected the Canon 6D mkII for my first full-frame camera (used - $925 - less than 12k shutters). DSLRs are still just as viable as the mirrorless, and lenses for these Canons still fetch a strong price and come up with just the same quality. The mirrorless boys are still buying converters and using the Canon lenses for their cameras because they are better and cheaper than the mirrorless version for the most part. Used DSLR bodies are cheaper than mirrorless; so saving some money ATT was being prudent, as the EOS -RP was also a consideration. Got the battery grip for it too, since making videos will need the reserve.

If I thought buying a camera was tough, lenses really showed even more of a challenge. Both for research and cost/expenditures.
Bought several:
1) EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II nano USM
2) EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
3) EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
4) EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
5) EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM
6) Samyang 14mm f/2.8 prime
7) Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 prime
(already have a EF 50mm f/1.4 prime)

About $3200 for the lot. Can't find a reasonable price on the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II. Version one is a more reasonable price, but will hold off for now and let my PayPal account cool off a bit first. Still looking though.

I think that mirrorless are still not yet what they will be even five years from now. Sensors are still changing in the industry across the board. Seems they already have sensors that can be almost noiseless up to 6400; but are still working out more of the details before they are put to market. The mirrorless cameras are smaller and lighter; but most brands still suffer from live view lag time. Battery life is much lower too, IIRC.
 
Aug 9, 2012
491
1,058
21
Macomb, IL
stormoptics.smugmug.com
So many do use Ps and LrClassic.
Seems to be a common choice and a solid one.

Well; the sordid tire kicking gave way to make some final evaluations, and then putting so much money where my mouth is.

I elected the Canon 6D mkII for my first full-frame camera (used - $925 - less than 12k shutters). DSLRs are still just as viable as the mirrorless, and lenses for these Canons still fetch a strong price and come up with just the same quality. The mirrorless boys are still buying converters and using the Canon lenses for their cameras because they are better and cheaper than the mirrorless version for the most part. Used DSLR bodies are cheaper than mirrorless; so saving some money ATT was being prudent, as the EOS -RP was also a consideration. Got the battery grip for it too, since making videos will need the reserve.

If I thought buying a camera was tough, lenses really showed even more of a challenge. Both for research and cost/expenditures.
Bought several:
1) EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II nano USM
2) EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
3) EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
4) EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
5) EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM
6) Samyang 14mm f/2.8 prime
7) Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 prime
(already have a EF 50mm f/1.4 prime)

About $3200 for the lot. Can't find a reasonable price on the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II. Version one is a more reasonable price, but will hold off for now and let my PayPal account cool off a bit first. Still looking though.

I think that mirrorless are still not yet what they will be even five years from now. Sensors are still changing in the industry across the board. Seems they already have sensors that can be almost noiseless up to 6400; but are still working out more of the details before they are put to market. The mirrorless cameras are smaller and lighter; but most brands still suffer from live view lag time. Battery life is much lower too, IIRC.
Sony A7SIII can go to ISO 12,800 or greater with little to no noise (dual native ISO at ISO 640 and ISO 12,800, values in between will be noisier, if you want clean video/photos and are at 10,000, push it to 12,800 and it will clean right up) and even higher if you use Topaz Denoise, very impressive. No live view time lag on the sony mirrorless models either. The A1 and A9 II have some of the fastest viewfinder refresh rates available on the market right now if you have 4500-6500 dollars to drop on a camera body. 5 years from now, who knows where mirrorless will be, probably somewhere around where we are now (~50mp sensors, 30fps, 8k video....might see someone throw in 8k 60p, but doubtful, most machines aren't even capable of displaying true 4k 10 bit 120p video let alone 8k, so we will see). Any camera body that is mirrorless of the last 4 years or so will probably be about where current technology is to be honest. Of course I'm speaking strictly from a Sony standpoint here, I don't have any experience with Canon or Nikon other than how badly the R5 overheats when shooting 8k lol.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rob Wadsworth
Just creating a talking point here.
Feel free to jump in.

So, I listened to your advice Ethan, and got Topaz Denoise.
And - Topaz Gigapixel.
I experimented with an old jpeg storm shot from Webb IA using a 10mp Canon XTi and ef-s 10-22mm lens.
First, used the Gigapixel program to turn it into four times of the original pixel count.
Then used Denoise.
Took it into DxO and pulled every scrap of detail that I could get out of it.

Soooo; what is right and what is wrong with this pic?
IOW - what would you have done differently?

IMG_1081-art-scale-4_00x-gigapixel-DeNoiseAI-clearMooned01_DxO.jpg
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ethan Schisler
In the pursuit of leaning photography, I invested in a few more pieces. The EF 100-400mm f/4.5L IS, EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS, and the Kenko DGM Pro 300 2X teleconverter.

In addition, I went with a Canon RP mirrorless to add to the arsenal. Along with the adapter to use the L lenses. A battery grip and extra Canon battery was also acquired.

Not that the 70-200mm will have much use storm chasing, or the 100-400mm for that matter; but they have proved to my satisfaction to xlnt lenses. Moonshots and sunshots with the 100-400mm lens were taken (sunshots have not yet been attempted, but are planned) - in order to familiarize myself with its finer points/weaknesses. The 70-200mm did get quite a vigorous workout taking portraits of church members yesterday. Even though it is not the version II, it is an excellent lens by the photos it produced that shows its metal. Very impressed with it, I must say!

So the 16-35mm f/2.8 v2, the 24-70mm f/2.8 v2, and the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS will be in the camera bag for this season. Along with the 6D mkII and the RP. Hoping this will cover all of the bases. Unless any have other thoughts?

Although I am presently taking an online course in photography; is there any special studies available for low light photography that might be recommended?
Thank You.
 

Warren Faidley

Supporter
May 7, 2006
1,969
2,067
21
Mos Isley Space Port
www.stormchaser.com
The best advice for low light photography is to search the internet. There are many references. The secret to low light photography is to use a tripod with a release and avoid going over 400 ISO if you can, depending on the subject and the quality you desire. There are some instances where very high ISO's are required (sprites for example). Practice as much as you can during the off season. There are a lot of internal camera settings related to low light photography, such as in-camera algorithms for reducing noise (grain). Again, test, test, test and compare the results.
 
Good advice Warren.
Yes; a tripod, remote shutter switch, and window mount will be included in the kit too.

Do you use the SKYWARN net on 2m/70cm too - to talk to the locals?
And using the book that has all of those repeaters I'll bet.
Cell phone conditions aren't always working in an emergency situation - are they?

I imagine that TX meso/tornado pic on your web site main page must of had a high ISO, since it looks to me that you were right under the middle of the bears cage when you snapped that one . . . nice pic.
The RP and the 6D handles ISOs well into 20,000 without too much damage. I do have a 24mm and a 50mm f/1.4 that I might need to bring and use as well, since the f/2.8 lenses can only be expected to do so much.

I see some of the better twister shots are usually from the SW of a NE heading storm. At least in that situation, some sunlight can make a better exposure to get that ISO lower - if at all possible to position oneself in time. But that doesn't always present itself to our liking - does it?

Also, recovering underexposed shots in Lightroom will be the REAL test of a camera's sensor.